God: The Initiator of Salvation

This post was submitted by a reader, Jenai Rothnie, and we are grateful for her contribution. Edited by Eric Kemp.

Recently, Dr. Roger Olson wrote a blog post, “For Fellow Arminians and Quasi-Arminians (Non-Calvinists): Prevenient Grace” [1] in which he asked the thoughts of those who do not identify either as Calvinists or Arminians on the topic of prevenient grace. This is the question he addressed:

“Is a special act of the Spirit is required to overcome the fallen nature of a person so he is then able to believe?”

Dr. Olson framed this as there being only three options: Belief in irresistible grace; belief in prevenient, but resistible grace; or belief that the initiative in salvation is human.

However, there is a more fundamental question that Dr. Olson leaves unaddressed. Does spurning the idea that an unregenerate, fallen man is incapable of responding to the gospel in faith, the theory of Total Inability which is shared by Calvinists and many Arminians, mean that one must believe that man is “the initiator in salvation”? I do not see a good reason to think so. Indeed, this is a false dilemma, since there are other options. In other words, there is no logical reason that disbelief in one would mandate belief in the other. All Christians can agree; God initiates salvation. To illustrate this let me ask yet another series of questions I will spend the rest of the article exploring:

What does it mean for God to initiate salvation? How does God initiate salvation? And would a response to the gospel in faith outside of a special act of prior regeneration or enabling grace be the logical equivalent to man initiating salvation?

“Initiate” As a Verb

As with many soteriological topics, it is important to define terms. As I define the different ways “initiate” can be used, I will show how each understanding does not require Dr. Olson’s presumption of “Total Inability” for God to initiate salvation. The Miriam Webster definition of the verb ‘initiate’ [2] is as follows:

1: To cause or facilitate the beginning of: set going, such as to initiate a program

The ‘program’ God initiated is Salvation. He caused the beginning of this program by sending Christ as Savior – something He planned from the foundation of the world – and revealing Him to man (Acts 28:28, I Pet 1:20, Tit 2:11.) The exact method for this program He initiated to be effectually fulfilled is the New Covenant in Christ’s shed blood, salvation being given to those who enter this Covenant through faith (Lk 22:20, Gal 4:24-31.) News of this program is then spread through the gospel message (Acts 8:12, Isa 52:7, Rom 1:16.)

2: to induct into membership by or as if by special rites

God inducts believers into His household and into the church as members (Eph 1:5, Rom 8:14, Rom 8:29, Jn 1:12-13, I Cor 12:27.) The first ‘rite’ He uses is baptism – identifying the believer as dying with Christ to their old self which was dead in sin, and raising that believer to new life in Christ (Rom 6:3-4, Rom 7:6, I Pet 1:3.) The born-again believer is granted the indwelling Spirit, given spiritual gifts to aid in the edification of the church, and adopted as a son of God and brother of Christ. (Rom 8:9, I Cor 12:7-11, Jn 1:12, Eph 1:5.)

3to instruct in the rudiments or principles of something: Introduce

There are many elements God uses to instruct in the rudiments and principles of salvation. The general law of God written on people’s hearts, the general conviction of sin the Holy Spirit gives the world, the teachings of Jesus and the Apostles, scripture, and the gospel message are just a few of them (Rom 2:14-15, Jn 16:9, II Tim 3:15, Eph 2:19-20, Rom 10:8-11, Heb 4:10). Even the law points us to Christ and the need for a Savior (Acts 7:52-53, Gal 3:24.) These all ‘introduce’ us to Christ, the good news of the Kingdom of God, and the way of salvation. For the believer, God continues to teach and instruct us via the indwelling Holy Spirit, scripture, and our relationship with Christ (Jn 14:26, I Jn 2:27, II Tim 3:16, II Pet 1:3-11.)

“Initiate” As a Noun

Initiate:

  1. A person who is undergoing or has undergone an initiation

The person who repents and turns in faith to Christ is the one undergoing God’s induction into His household and the church (Eph 2:17-19, I Cor 12:27, Col 3:15)

  • A person who is instructed or adept in some special field

The believer is given the Holy Spirit to instruct Him in all things, scriptures to develop godliness, and relationship with Christ so that he may bear fruit (Jn 14:26, II Pet 1:3-11, Jn 15:5.)

The Initiate Is Not the Initiator

If God inducts the believing one, then it can be said that the believer is inducted by God. The believers’s agreement to join Yahweh’s group or program doesn’t change that. Yahweh is the one to admit the new Christian into membership and instruct the believer. The believing one’s assent to undergo the initiation merely affirms God’s role as initiator; it does not somehow make the believing one the initiator.

A fallen human hearing the gospel message about the Savior and subsequently turning in repentance and faith to Christ in no way makes that human the initiator of salvation. It is a logically absurdity, a contradiction in terms; the initiate cannot be considered the initiator.

Initiation into the New Covenant

One of the most important concepts in scripture is the New Covenant (also known as ‘The New Testament.’) The New Covenant is a two-party covenant between God and His people, attested to by the blood of Christ (Gal 3.) Yet a person has to enter that New Covenant by faith to become part of it. Only inside the New Covenant can he be cleansed by Christ’s blood and claim the promises of it (Heb 9:11-22, Gal 3:14.)

“This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all people.” I Tim 3-6a

The New Covenant is initiated by God. The securities and promises of the New Covenant are also initiated by God (Gal 3:22, Gal 4:30-21, Heb 12:22-25). Becoming a ‘grantee’ of those promises by faith does not, even in part, make a person the grantor. Christ initiated the ‘New Covenant’ in His blood, sealing it with His death and thus making it available for all mankind to enter it through faith. Our willingness to enter the covenant does not mean we made or initiated the covenant or initiated the giving of its rewards, including the promise of salvation (Gal 3:10-29, Col 1:21-23). At best we could say, colloquially, that our entering the covenant by faith begins our entering the covenant by faith – but that is just a tautology, and not treated in scripture as an impossibility for man like fulfilling the works of the law would be, but rather a requirement (Jn 6:28-29).

God As Initiator

God ‘initiates’ salvation by revealing the Savior and the offer of salvation to everyone, asking them only to believe, like a King both preparing a feast and sending out invitations asking people to come. For most people today, that invitation will be upon hearing the gospel. Faith is our acceptance of that invite, our trust in the feast to come.

God then effectually grants the believer salvation – we die with Christ and rise by the power of the Spirit to new life in Christ, an entire process which is initiated by God, sustained by the power of the Spirit, and continues until the believer physically dies and is resurrected with a new spiritual body. At no point does man do any of the actual ‘saving’ part, whether by accepting the offer or continuing to abide in Christ and walk by the granted indwelling Spirit.

Just as the initiator of a group or rite might have conditions for the initiate to follow, so God has the requirement of faith to be inducted into His household, to be grantees of the Covenant, to receive a regenerate nature, and to be recipients of Christ’s deliverance. If a fallen human were capable of responding to the gospel in faith, that would not logically make him the initiator of salvation – it just makes him an initiate. As such, the argument that the only alternative to Calvinism’s ‘Irresistible Grace’ or Arminianism’s ‘Prevenient Grace’ would be ‘Man Initiates Salvation’ is unfounded.

Below you will find brief comments of other passages which all Christians should be able to agree shows that God initiates that, we would argue, do not require Total Inability.

Further Evidence

Here are 12 other non-exhaustive ways in which God initiates both the general offer of salvation to all mankind and the effectual granting of salvation to those who believe:

  •  God sent Christ into the world as Savior (Isa 63, Jn 17:3, Jn 3:17)

Man did not ask for a Savior or bring up his own savior or save himself. This sending was initiated by God.

  • Christ ‘illuminates’ the way to eternal life. (Heb 1:3, Jn 1_3-4)

A man who sees the light and walks into it does not initiate the light. Without the light given first, he would not have even walked into it, so it cannot even be said that he initiated coming into the light. He responded; he did not initiate.

  • God spoke to mankind through Christ during the Earthly ministry of Jesus (Lk 3:23, Heb 1:1-2, Matt 4:23)

This teaching of the kingdom of God and other truths was not initiated by man. Jesus taught the message to His disciples who shared it, but they did not teach by their own initiation. And no one who heard or even believed him initiated His words.

  • By the Father’s will, Jesus was lifted up, drawing all men (Jn 12:32, Isa 5:26, Isa 10:11.)

Jesus is the one who is the beacon or rallying-point to which the nations look. He initiates the signal. He initiates the shelter offered to those coming to Him. He initiates the deliverance granted to those coming to Him.

This lifting up also initiated the opportunity for true healing to all. As Moses lifted the snake on a pole so that anyone who looked at the snake would be healed by the power of God, so God initiated the opportunity for healing through Christ’s work on the cross. Anyone who trusts in Christ’s sacrifice on the cross would be healed by dying to sin and be given eternal life in Christ (Jn 3:14-16, I Pet 2:24)

God initiates that call to be healed to all, and initiates the healing itself to those who look. Those who look do not become the healer, but merely accept that call to be healed and accept the healing God will then effectually initiate.

  • Now that Jesus has ascended into Heaven (Heb 4:14,) God continues to illuminate the way through the gospel about Christ (II Tim 1:9-10, Jn 12:46, etc.)

By making the “righteousness apart from the law” known to all the world, anyone can now ‘see’ the way of salvation when presented the gospel. The gospel message ‘introduces’ those who hear it to Christ and the way of salvation, and some will respond to it in faith. (Rom 10:8-15.)

  • The general revelation of God’s natural law written on the hearts of man shows the reality that we all sin (Rom 2:15-16.)

God ‘writes’ His law on the heart of man. An unbeliever who, at times, follows this law does not initiate the law or actualize it somehow by obeying. Their obedience, incomplete though it is, is rooted in the prior law of God written on their heart.

  • The general conviction of sin in the world by the Holy Spirit reveals the need for a Savior (Jn 16:8-11.)

When man feels convicted for a sin he commits, it is not himself that initiates the conviction. The Holy Spirit does. If he heeds the conviction and repents, that repentance is still rooted in the conviction that the Holy Spirit initiated. It cannot even be said that man initiates his own repentance, since that ‘change of mind’ was initiated by the conviction of the Spirit that his natural mind was wrong. Man can also choose to ignore that conviction or reject it, rather than repent, but that cannot stop the Holy Spirit from continuing to convict the world regarding sin.

  • An unbeliever who turns in faith becomes the baptized initiate, not the baptizing initiator.

For a new believer, God inducts him into the church, the body of Christ, through the ‘ritual’ of baptism. He takes the dead-in-sin condemned person and cleanses their conscience before Him, identifying that person with the death of Christ and so ‘killing’ the old self which was dead to sin (I Pet 3:12, Col 2:20.) As Christ’s death fulfilled the law, so the believer dies to the law (Rom 7:4.) God then identifies him with the resurrection of Christ, regenerating him unto a new life by the power of the Spirit, which then is given to that believer to indwell him as a helper. The new ‘alive in Christ’ believer is now dead to sin rather than dead in sin (Rom 6:1-14.) The believer is now ‘born again’ of the Spirit (I Pet 1:3, I Pet 1:23, Jn 3:5.)

  • For believers, God inducts us into His household by adoption (Gal 4:4-7.)

    God adopts us, we do not adopt Him. Our willingness to accept Him as Father is not the same as being the one who initiates the actual offer of adoption or the one who initiates and performs the adoption. Not only this, but this adoption was already settled before time began, when God predestined that He would adopt all those ‘in Christ,’ i.e. adopt all believers (Eph 1:4-5.)

  • For those initiates in the New Covenant (believers,) God initiates the promises of the Covenant according to when He says they will occur. For present members of the Covenant: the Spirit to teach us and perfect us and flow from us like living water, God’s peace and armor to guard us, etc. (Jn 16:13, Jn 7:37-38, Gal 3:3, Eph 6:10-17.) For the future, Christ to raise all believers on the last day and grant us new Spiritual bodies, and for God to usher us in to His eternal rest (Jn 6:40, I Cor 15:42-58.)
  • For believers, God initiates the bearing of Spiritual fruit (Gal 2:22-26, Jn 15:1-8)

    “Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.” Jn 15:4

The believer must remain in Christ and walk by the Spirit. But does this ‘initiate’ the fruit? No – the initiation is from Christ our support, the power of the Spirit, and the will of the Father.



[1] Olson, Roger. “For Fellow Arminians and Quasi-Arminians (Non-Calvinists): Prevenient Grace.” Roger E. Olson My Evangelical Arminian Theological Musings, Patheos, April 26th, 2019, https://www.patheos.com/blogs/rogereolson/2019/04/for-fellow-arminians-and-quasi-arminians-non-calvinists-prevenient-grace/

[2] “Initiate.” Merriam-Webster. Merriam-Webster, Inc, 2019. Merriam-Webster.com. Web. May 14 2019.

632 thoughts on “God: The Initiator of Salvation

  1. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. Phil 2: 13. This is prevenient Grace. One does not have to believe in total depravity to believe in prevenient grace. One can simple assert that grace was not withdrawn from mankind to the extent that Calvinists teach but prevenient grace continued to work with man after the fall in paradise ( albeit differently) and still “enlightens every man that cometh into the world” and that those who are not converted cannot blame a lack of irresistible grace but rather will have to blame themselves for “receiving the grace of God in vain.”

    1. Thank you dnjohn for this post.

      Am I correct to assume this is a position held by some who see themselves as in the Arminian camp?
      If so it would appear that not all Arminians hold to Total Depravity.

    2. Until recently I had little problem with the term Prevenient Grace since that is what I thought it meant – simply all the graces that ‘go before’ a persons conversion, such as Christ revealing Himself and acting as an illuminating light to all to reveal the Father and the truth (Heb 1:1 even says as much, with Christ as the ‘effulgence’ of the Father’s glory, likened to the rays of the sun which allow the people on Earth to know the sun exists,) conviction of the Holy Spirit, hearing the gospel, etc. And it is sometimes used in this sense, in which case I would not disagree with it at all.

      Unfortunately, I’ve realized it is that isn’t always what the term means – isn’t even what it is used for the majority of the time, so it is a ‘charged’ term and not a clear one.

      The “FACTS’ of Arminianism (like Calvinism’s TULIP) include “Total Depravity” as the T and hold that fallen humans are “unable to believe the gospel” in their current state. The main concept of Prevenient grace is in the “F” of their summarized views, “Freed by Grace to believe” – wherein God enables everyone who hears the gospel to believe. That ‘enabling grace’ is what Prevenient Grace is. I think there is probably a wide umbrella as to what that actually means, but the core idea is that man can’t believe, due to total depravity, so God must specially enable men (beyond the graces of the gospel itself, the revelation of Christ, the drawing of all by the cross, etc.) in a supernatural manner to overcome their sin nature so they are able to believe.

      But that is an unnecessary step only required by prior belief in the faulty view of Total Depravity. God specifically chose faith as the condition to graciously grant salvation because fallen man could believe in a promise whereas they couldn’t be perfect under the law or achieve salvation by their own power or merit. Fallen humans believe in tons of things we can’t prove or don’t directly see – being persuaded of various truths happens to even unbelievers. So there isn’t really a reason to think a fallen human ‘can’t’ believe the gospel by nature even when presented with it without God stepping in to enable them further.

    3. dnjohn writes, ‘For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. Phil 2: 13. This is prevenient Grace.”

      If we preface this by Philippians 1:6, “God who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” we see that your “prevenient grace” refers to the sanctification process.

    4. You should probably check the context of your proof-texts before posting comments. I don’t particularly disagree with the meat of your conclusions, but your proof is off.

      As Rhutchin stated, the context of Philippians is already-saved individuals. Christians. I think Rhutchin brings up a good point when he says that this seems more like progressive sanctification given the context.

      I also critique your usage of 2 Corinthians 6:1, “We then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain.” The context here as well as before is fellow Christians. They have already been converted, or have already “received the grace of God.” Receive is active, not passive. They’re Christians, and so they won’t be blaming themselves for anything eternally in the way you suggest. They’ll be enjoying eternity with God just like the rest of us. What this passage speaks to is ignoring the active grace of God in our lives and not progressing in our sanctification.

  2. Thanks for this article.

    The article mentions the wedding feast. That story alone (told by Christ) should be enough to convince the Calvinist. God prepares the feast and invites. Some say no….He opens it up to all. Not only does He initiate….but is shows that his grace is resistible.

    The OT shows His grace being resisted thousands of times. Why is this so hard to see?

    The monergistic-run site Got Questions (who side with Calvinists) show their double-speak when discussing this feast:

    “Note that it is not because the invited guests could not (italics) come to the wedding feast, but that they would not (italics) come (see Luke 13:34). Everyone had an excuse. How tragic, and how indicative of human nature, to be offered the blessings of God and to refuse them because of the draw of mundane things!”

    Once again a double standard. They say it is 100 monergistic yet they say they “could have come” and that they were “offered the blessing” but refused. Those are both a no-no in Calvinism!

    According to Calvinism no offer is extended, because if it was it would be irresistible.

    1. I agree, the Wedding Feast is an excellent picture of this! No one would claim those invited initiated the invitation, or that by putting on the wedding garments (garments that were likely provided to the guests, culturally, showing a picture of God clothing us with Christ’s righteousness) that someone would “initiate” the very wedding feast they had been invited to.

      As for Gotquestions, they have more than one writer on staff. I have seen some of their posts mention whether an answer is from a 4-point or 5-point perspective, but yes some of their answers can be quite at odds with others. An entire post on what is regeneration, for example, emphasizes several times that we must have faith to then be regenerated, get a new birth, be made spiritually live, be reconciled and adopted, etc. And no where does it state that one must be regenerated or partially regenerated first to get faith. (Which is not usually the view of a Calvinist…) Yet another article on Total Inability contradicts that over and over by insisting, again over and over, that Total Inability is a summary of “what the Bible teaches” about fallen man being unable to get faith, and prior regeneration/being made spiritually alive, is needed.

      It’s a bit dizzying to follow sometimes. Many of their answers are imported into eBible though for content, which is where I usually read them, and I can at least comment my disagreement with them there.

  3. From the article, “What does it mean for God to initiate salvation?”

    The Calvinist.Arminian debate presumes that God initiates salvation through a spiritual change in the reprobate person. The Calvinist calls that act the new birth; the Arminian says it affords all people the ability to hear the gospel and respond either positively or negatively (basically reducing to a Pelagian system). Prior to that spiritual change a person may hear the gospel (this by the grace of God) but will always resist that grace. That situation is not discussed in the article. The article says nothing objectionable to Calvinist or Arminian other than the presumption that reprobate an can make a spiritual decision to accept God’s offer of Salvation. However, the author seems to side with the Arminian on the issue of prevenient grace saying,

    1. “Christ ‘illuminates’ the way to eternal life [to all].
    2. “By the Father’s will, Jesus was lifted up, drawing all men”
    3. ‘The general revelation of God’s natural law written on the hearts of man shows the reality that we all sin”
    4. “Now that Jesus has ascended into Heaven (Heb 4:14,) God continues to illuminate the way through the gospel about Christ
    5. “The general conviction of sin in the world by the Holy Spirit reveals the need for a Savior”

    I doubt that Roger Olsen would quibble with that as his prevenient grace probably includes such things.

    The author asks, “Does spurning the idea that an unregenerate, fallen man is incapable of responding to the gospel in faith, the theory of Total Inability which is shared by Calvinists and many Arminians, mean that one must believe that man is “the initiator in salvation”?” The answer by the author, based on the four acts of God above, seems to be, Yes.

    1. Hi Rhutchin,

      You might find it helpful to read the referenced blog post by Roger Olson on the subject and the comments under it, where it was clarified that in his view of Prevenient Grace, another grace beyond all those you just mentioned, of a supernatural sort, is required to enable the fallen sinner to believe. His view does ‘include such things’ as the article above, but goes father to include a further required, enabling grace of some kind. It is the failure to believe something ‘further’ is needed, (such as enabling prevenient grace, prior regeneration, partial regeneration, some men just being given effectual faith, the faith of Christ being applied to some but not all, or other theories proposed once the theory of Total Inability is accepted.)

      I am curious as to why you think an essay about the myriad and multiple factors in which God initiates salvation, and the human responding to the gospel in faith makes the human an initiate of the Covenant, baptism, God’s household, etc. but in no way an initiator, would somehow “support” the idea that fallen man would become the initiator in salvation if capable of responding in faith.

      Also, why do you specifically believe that someone rejecting the Calvinist/Arminian theory of Total Inability would necessitate his rejecting all the ample passages of scripture (many listed in the above post) as to how God graciously initiates salvation? Why would someone rejecting the theory fallen man is unable to respond in faith to the presented gospel, even with all the grace God gives, logically mandate that they believe man is the initiator?

      And more important than personal beliefs, why would God Himself somehow become the non-initiator of Salvation if He graciously and sovereignly chose a condition that even fallen men could meet; faith; as the requirement for entering the Covenant and being graciously granted salvation, as it would not be based in man’s merit or effort or will, but solely God’s gracious choice to offer and win and credit to them?

      1. Sorry this line was not finished:

        “It is the failure to believe something ‘further’ is needed, (such as enabling prevenient grace, prior regeneration, partial regeneration, some men just being given effectual faith, the faith of Christ being applied to some but not all, or other theories proposed once the theory of Total Inability is accepted) that was treated in his blog post as equivalent to believing that man initiates salvation.

        My post was specifically to address that false dilemma. Someone isn’t mandated to reject God as the Initiator of salvation if he rejects the Calvinist/Arminian premise of Total Inability. There are more than “just three” options.

      2. Jenai Rothnie writes, “the referenced blog post by Roger Olson on the subject and the comments under it, where it was clarified that in his view of Prevenient Grace, another grace beyond all those you just mentioned, of a supernatural sort, is required to enable the fallen sinner to believe.”

        The blog was a little confusing where it has, “…prevenient grace (enabling, assisting grace that goes before conversion making it possible) is supernatural and a special work of the Holy Spirit freeing the will of the sinner which is otherwise bound to sin (unbelief). ” I found, “…freeing the will…” interesting as the Calvinist has “quickening the spirit.” If all prevenient grace amounts to is freeing the “will” from slavery to sin, I think Dr, Flowers might qualify as a proponent of prevenient grace as his point seems to be that this is the effect of hearing gospel.

        The issue of TD/TI is the condition of man’s spirit – is the lost person spiritually dead and thereby unable to respond to God and if so, what must God do to negate that condition – as stated above, ““s a special act of the Spirit is required to overcome the fallen nature of a person so he is then able to believe?” An argument is then given to answer the question, “What does it mean for God to initiate salvation?” The ensuing argument leaves out any Scripture that Olson or a Calvinist would point to in support of TD/TI This allows the author to say, “Below you will find brief comments of other passages which all Christians should be able to agree shows that God initiates that, we would argue, do not require Total Inability.” Leave out the opponents argument and you can easily argue your position. But, so what?

        Then, “I am curious as to why you think an essay about…factors in which God initiates salvation, and the human responding to the gospel in faith makes the human an initiate of the Covenant, baptism, God’s household, etc. but in no way an initiator, would somehow “support” the idea that fallen man would become the initiator in salvation if capable of responding in faith.”

        I don’t think this. The argument is not whether man initiates his salvation but whether man cooperates in his salvation – God does His part and man does his part to procure salvation.

        Then, ‘Also, why do you specifically believe that someone rejecting the Calvinist/Arminian theory of Total Inability would necessitate his rejecting all the ample passages of scripture (many listed in the above post) as to how God graciously initiates salvation?”

        I don’t believe that. Certainly God initiates salvation – the question being, To what degree must God act to enable a person to be saved. If TD/TI is correct, then certain actions are called for and Calvinists and Arminians can cite Scriptures detailing these actions. If ane argues that TD/TI is not correct, then those Scriptures may be ignored as the essay above does.

        Then, “Why would someone rejecting the theory fallen man is unable to respond in faith to the presented gospel, even with all the grace God gives, logically mandate that they believe man is the initiator? ”

        Let’s use the question asked in the essay, “there is a more fundamental question that Dr. Olson leaves unaddressed. Does spurning the idea that an unregenerate, fallen man is incapable of responding to the gospel in faith, the theory of Total Inability which is shared by Calvinists and many Arminians, mean that one must believe that man is “the initiator in salvation”?”

        The answer is, Yes. Under Total Depravity, a person cannot respond to the gospel for two reasons – (1) he is spiritually dead, and (2) he has no faith with which to respond. If one rejects this notion of TD, then the presumption is that faith is inherent and something a person is born with. The person has a faith that seeks an object for his faith. If a person has no faith (thereby being TD), and can only receive faith through the hearing of the gospel, then of course, God becomes the initiator of salvation through His gift of faith (among many other graces).

      3. rh writes:
        “Does spurning the idea that an unregenerate, fallen man is incapable of responding to the gospel in faith, the theory of Total Inability which is shared by Calvinists and many Arminians, mean that one must believe that man is “the initiator in salvation”?”

        The answer is, Yes. Under Total Depravity, a person cannot respond to the gospel for two reasons – (1) he is spiritually dead, and (2) he has no faith with which to respond. If one rejects this notion of TD, then the presumption is that faith is inherent and something a person is born with. The person has a faith that seeks an object for his faith. If a person has no faith (thereby being TD), and can only receive faith through the hearing of the gospel, then of course, God becomes the initiator of salvation through His gift of faith (among many other graces).”

        Now there’s a novel idea. People are born with faith? Where in the world did he pull that one from? Calvinists and non-calvinists alike recognize – and debate – the meaning and method of man coming to faith in God’s promised salvation. I have never heard anyone suggest that men are born with said faith. But, of course, he does not really believe any such thing, he is just offering a strawman, as Calvinists are wont to do. Plus, it is an attempt to retain the imported, made-up definition of faith as some sort of entity that can be given and received, like a material gift.

        Just assert anything, however absurd, as necessarily true if one rejects Calvinism’s particular doctrines. No one is suggesting, or likely ever thought of, men being born with inherent ‘faith’. Nor is it even slightly possible, for faith is not a trait or a gift, but a voluntary response to something that is declared to be true. Once confronted with a truth claim, a person has the opportunity to believe, reject or reserve judgment. Belief in the truth of a truth claim is not an inherent trait, nor can it be randomly passed out, like tickets to a ballgame. Faith is a choice, in this case, to believe the claims and promises of the One, True God.

        Obviously, as scripture notes (asks rhetorically), no one can believe what they have not heard; hence the call to spread the good news. Nowhere does scripture ask ‘Who can believe unless he has been regenerated and made alive so that he can then be given the gift of faith, unsought and irresistibly bestowed upon a select few, chosen in eternity past by God?’ Nowhere.

      4. TS00 writes, “I have never heard anyone suggest that men are born with said faith.”

        And that is why you believe in TD/TI.

      5. Rhutchin,

        If someone does not believe the Earth is made of cheese, it does not logically mandate that they must believe the Earth is flat. Not believing men are born with faith doesn’t mean someone must hold to Total Inability. A false dilemma isn’t made more true by repeating it. “Given effectual faith by God” and “Born with faith” are not the only options, exclusive of all other possibilities.

        We aren’t born with faith in the gospel We aren’t effectually given faith in the gospel. We “have faith” when we welcome the gospel message so as to believe in Christ (Acts 2:41, Jn 1:12, Eph 1:13, Acts 4:4, etc.)

        Re-read Rom 10:8-17. There you will see how faith comes, and it is neither by being “born” with it or it being effectually given by God. You will also see that the requirement for faith that is given is first hearing the word, not some other method like being regenerated/given faith/made alive/etc.

      6. Glad you’re here, Jenai. We need all the help we can get to call rhutchin on his logical fallacies. 😉

      7. JR: “Not believing men are born with faith doesn’t mean someone must hold to Total Inability.”

        In Hebrews, we read, “…without faith it is impossible to please God…” Then, in Romans, “,,,those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” Further, “…the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so;” The terms, “impossible” and “unable to do so” point us to Total Inability.

        Then, “We “have faith” when we welcome the gospel message so as to believe in Christ…”

        I agree. In Hebrews we see that faith involves assurance and conviction. The gospel conveys assurance and conviction to people but not all who hear the gospel receive such assurance and conviction. So, something differentiates the one from the other. Nonetheless, it is this assurance and conviction (i.e., faith)that manifests as belief in Christ.

        Then, “There you will see how faith comes, and it is neither by being “born” with it or it being effectually given by God. You will also see that the requirement for faith that is given is first hearing the word,…”

        I agree. But not everyone who “hears” the gospel comes to belief in Christ. Something accounts for one person to hear the gospel and believe Christ while another hears the gospel but does not believe in Christ. Christ would refer to a person “having ears to hear” and we can understand that Christ was differentiating between those who have spiritual perception and those who do not. What does spiritual perception involve? We could say that it involves the ability to see the kingdom and enter the kingdom. In John 5, we see that a perosn must be born again for that to occur.

      8. Rhutchin,

        Heb 1:6 says that without faith it is impossible to well-please God, NOT that without faith it is impossible to respond to the gospel in faith.

        Look at the phrase ““…without faith it is impossible to please God…” in it’s context:

        “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for. [Why would they be commended for it if they a) couldn’t have it or b) it was something effectually given them?] By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible. [‘Understand’ here means “to apply mental effort needed to reach “bottom-line” conclusions:”

        “3539 noiéō (from 3563 /noús, “mind”) – properly, to apply mental effort needed to reach “bottom-line” conclusions. 3539 (noiéō) underlines the moral culpability we all have before God – for every decision (value-judgment) we make. This follows from each of us being created in the divine image – hence, possessing the inherent capacity by the Lord to exercise moral reasoning.”
        https://biblehub.com/greek/3539.htm ]

        By faith Abel brought God a better offering than Cain did. [Was fallen Abel unable to do this? No hint of such a thing! Did God tell Cain ‘sorry I didn’t make you alive so you couldn’t bring a better offering? No, he told Cain he would be accepted if he did what was right, and cautioned Cain to rule over his sinful desires.] By faith he was commended as righteous, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith Abel still speaks, even though he is dead. By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death: “He could not be found, because God had taken him away.” For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God. And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.[Note the parallel again – faith is believing God exists and trusting in His promises/assurances.] By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that is in keeping with faith.”

        Etc. The whole chapter is about how we need faith to come to God and please Him. Nothing in the chapter states or implies that faith is required to have faith, that morally reasoning about God’s testimony and promises is impossible for fallen man, that the ancients simply couldn’t act in faith and neither can we, etc.

        Romans 8, again, context! It isn’t saying those in the flesh cannot repent and turn to God in faith.

        “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you a free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.”

        [Believers, those in Christ Jesus, have been set free from the law of sin and death. The law was powerless to do this (save) because the strength of the law (in telling right from wrong) is weakened by the flesh of fallen humans [e.g. humans, even ones that strive to do good, are necessarily tempted at times by the flesh and so stray from the law. But Jesus provided another way: by becoming a sin offering for us, His blood can now effectually cover believers so the requirement of the law (righteousness) can be met in us, as God imputes the righteousness of Christ to the believer. Now, the believer lives according to the Spirit, vs. attempting and failing to live by the law.]

        “Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.”

        [In context, that is all about the flesh being hostile to God and unable to fully keep the law so as to be righteous. Hence, since all fallen humans are lawbreakers, they cannot please God. This does not mean they cannot respond to the gospel in faith so that they THEN can please God, be governed by the Spirit, get new life, etc.]

        “You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of e his Spirit who lives in you.”

        [The chapter is contrasting two states: #1 subject to death because of sin by being in the ‘realm of the flesh’ and #2 given life by the indwelling Spirit of God. It isn’t saying one is unable to pass from one state to the other without being given faith. This is pretty much the same argument given in Rom 6:1-14 as well:

        “What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, a that we should no longer be slaves to sin— because anyone who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness. For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.”

        To pass from death to life, a person trusts in Christ and the promises of God. The fallen human with faith is “baptized into Christ’s death,” identifying with His burial, and then God raises up the believer to new life just as He raised Jesus from the dead. Then, the person who formerly walked by the flesh can now walk by the indwelling Spirit and “please God” and submit to God.

        The gospel does not effectually convey or “manifest” assurance and conviction. What it does is *testify* of God’s assurances and tell of the death and Resurrection of Christ. Then, as per Heb 11, some perceive/understand (use their moral reasoning) about that testimony and decide that there is indeed enough assurance in the gospel for them to trust in it. Personal testimonies, scripture, nature, the gospel message itself, the conviction of the Spirit regarding sin, etc. – these are all secondary evidences that the gospel is true. But faith is not the same as “sight” – if gospel assurance was effectually applied to some and not others, there would be no faith required!

        Certainly, “not everyone who “hears” the gospel comes to belief in Christ.” But there is no scriptural reason that there must be only one “something” that keeps people from believing, or only one “something” that draws others to believe. Going back to the parable of the sower already mentioned in this discussion, we see several reasons that people did not believe or continue in belief (a hardened path where the seed could not penetrate before being snatched away by Satan; a shallow rocky soil which the seed could penetrate but not have a firm root; a weedy soil where the seed could take root but the plant would be easily choked by cares of the world) – and many other reasons for people not believing are listed in scripture (love of sin, not wanting personal sin to be revealed, unwillingness to have a personal moral savior vs. a physical political one, etc.) And from the many discussions I have had with atheists, I could add “mad at God” or “hurt by a Christian” to that list. That is, even in the cases of some who do believe deep down that God is real and Christ is the Messiah might still refuse because they are blaming God for a past hurt. (In this regard, Calvinists like John Piper who declare that God decreed every hurt and crime ever committed, including the Holocaust or sexual abuse, can be stumbling locks to people like this who are resisting Christ due to hurt.)

        Jesus did often use the phrase “ears to hear” at the end of parables. That’s a reference back to Jeremiah 5 and some other prophecies on Israel becoming dull of hearing, which I suggest be read in it’s entirety. The nation of Israel forsook God, and so God turned them over to exile and captivity by Rome as well as hardening them in part.

        “What then? What Israel was seeking, it failed to obtain, but the elect did. The others were hardened, as it is written: “God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes that could not see, and ears that could not hear, to this very day.” Rom 11:8

        “…Yet even in those days,” declares the Lord, “I will not destroy you completely. And when the people ask, ‘Why has the Lord our God done all this to us?’ you will tell them, ‘As you have forsaken me and served foreign gods in your own land, so now you will serve foreigners in a land not your own.’ “Announce this to the descendants of Jacob and proclaim it in Judah: Hear this, you foolish and senseless people,
        who have eyes but do not see, who have ears but do not hear: Should you not fear me?” declares the Lord…. But these people have stubborn and rebellious hearts; they have turned aside and gone away. They do not say to themselves, ‘Let us fear the Lord our God, who gives autumn and spring rains in season, who assures us of the regular weeks of harvest.’ Your wrongdoings have kept these away; your sins have deprived you of good. Among my people are the wicked who lie in wait like men who snare birds and like those who set traps to catch people. Like cages full of birds, their houses are full of deceit; they have become rich and powerful and have grown fat and sleek. Their evil deeds have no limit; they do not seek justice. They do not promote the case of the fatherless; they do not defend the just cause of the poor. Should I not punish them for this?” declares the Lord. “Should I not avenge myself on such a nation as this? “A horrible and shocking thing has happened in the land: The prophets prophesy lies, the priests rule by their own authority, and my people love it this way.
        But what will you do in the end?” – Jer 5

        “For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.'” Acts 28:7

        There are many, many scriptures on the subject of ‘ears to hear.’ But none of them say that God must “give” people ears to hear so that they can hear. Rather, they are references to the nation of Israel which, unlike every other nation on Earth, specifically had a covenant with God. They forsook God, for idolatry, greed, etc. By the time of Christ the Pharisees were using their position for gain and reputation, not to actually help people follow God. God hardened Israel in part due to this. So when Jesus is saying “those who have ears, let them hear” the listeners would have been familiar with Jeremiah. It’s a warning to them that their leaders are not ruling by God’s authority and are leading them astray; that God will soon bring judgement on the nation; and to return to God. That’s a common theme of Jesus’ teaching to the Israelites, specifically: if you were really following God/the scripture/the prophets you would believe me. Your rejection of me shows that you aren’t really following God, Moses, scripture, etc. at all.

        Now, one could get out of that that many in Israel were hardened in their own rebellion (hence the hardened path in the Parable of the Sower,) but one cannot derive from that figurative/prophetic language that every unbeliever in the world has to be *granted* ears to hear. Jesus message is to those who “have” ears, i.e. take stock of what you do know (of God, scripture, etc.) and test/heed what I say in light of that, NOT in light of what your leaders are saying or what you personally hope the Messiah will look like or hope God will do, etc.

        We “enter the kingdom” BY faith, not so that we can then get faith. The person with faith is born again (Rom 6) as they identify with the death of Christ and God raises them to new life and grants them the indwelling Spirit. No one must be born again to get faith.

        Faith -> Born Again (baptism: death to sin + new life by the Spirit) -> adopted as sons, reconciled with God, enter the kingdom, made Holy, conformed to Christ, sanctified, etc.

        We aren’t born again to get/be given faith or anythihng like that. Our new birth is post faith as God graciously unites the believer in the death & Resurrection of Christ, imputes Christ’s righteousness to us, and grants us the indwelling Holy Spirit so we can walk in that newness of life.

      9. Jenai,
        I appreciate your willingness to post so much good stuff.

        In case you did not know…..much of this has been said to him multiple times by multiple people in multiple ways using multiple Bible passages.

        It is GOOD that you are putting it out there for other interested parties to read, but I’m just letting you know that (a) he has seen most of this before and (b) since he is bringing significant presuppositions to the table I dont think he can “hear” or see your logic. It’s a little bit like speaking a different language.

        For us “he is simply choosing to prefer Calvinism” but for him “he has been chosen to say all he says” (woah, so have we for that matter, according to Calvinism!).

      10. I can second that!

        Calvinists may present the impression that they are open minded – but we eventually understand that is not what they are here for.

        And rhutchin has been here for years – so we know exactly what to anticipate.
        He has a few dialog modes which have been labeled over time.
        1) The dancing boxer routine
        2) The greased pig routine
        3) The puppy dog chasing his tail routine
        4) The fake open-minded person routine

        But we all eventually observe the pattern of Double-Speak.
        Calvinists like to present by inference, conceptions that are the logical inverse of dictates specifically asserted by their own doctrine.

      11. Jenai, I would second FOH, and you probably have seen enough to know already, that even here we see evidence of those who do and do not have ears to hear. 😉 Those who do not, will not understand, even if God takes on flesh and speaks to them in person.

        Nevertheless, I am personally encouraged and informed by your very capable and well-presented messages, so I hope that you will continue to post them!

      12. JR: “The whole chapter is about how we need faith to come to God and please Him.”

        Agreed as well as your analysis leading up to this point. By “we,” I take you to mean unsaved humanity unless you meant, “We believers needed faith to come to God (i.e., to believe in Christ/call Him Lord.).”

        Then, “Nothing in the chapter states or implies that faith is required to have faith, that morally reasoning about God’s testimony and promises is impossible for fallen man, that the ancients simply couldn’t act in faith and neither can we, etc.”

        The chapter is silent on unbelievers; it deals with the faith of believers. However, elsewhere, we see that faith is necessary to salvation. As you say earlier, “we need faith to come to God.” and “Faith comes by hearing.” I think this says that people are not born with faith and until a person receives faith, he cannot come to God. As the verse says, “without faith it is impossible to please Him,” and presuming that “coming to God” pleases Him, we can draw reasonable conclusions about the unsaved who have no faith.

        Later, you say, ‘”Then, as per Heb 11, some perceive/understand (use their moral reasoning) about that testimony and decide that there is indeed enough assurance in the gospel for them to trust in it. Personal testimonies, scripture, nature, the gospel message itself, the conviction of the Spirit regarding sin, etc. – these are all secondary evidences that the gospel is true. But faith is not the same as “sight” – if gospel assurance was effectually applied to some and not others, there would be no faith required! ”

        You say, “and decide that there is indeed enough assurance in the gospel for them to trust in it.” This is wrong. Faith is assurance and conviction; Faith comes by hearing.. One who “hears” the gospel has assurance/conviction – more than enough to trust in Christ/submit to Christ as Lord. Some people receive faith, some do not.

        Then, ‘But there is no scriptural reason that there must be only one “something” that keeps people from believing, or only one “something” that draws others to believe.”

        OK – but there is a “something” however simple or complex that would explain it. There are many excuses people offer to refuse to believe the gospel. However, some people do believe and they probably have the same excuses. So, we both agree that “something” explains why some believe in Christ and some do not. At this point, you have offered some excuses that you think comprise this “something” for unbelievers. As a Calvinist, I say that something is God for believers.

        Then, ‘There are many, many scriptures on the subject of ‘ears to hear.’ But none of them say that God must “give” people ears to hear so that they can hear.”

        OK. We now need to explain why some have “ears to hear” and some do not. You do not explain what you think accounts for this. Again, as a Calvinist, I say that God gives some “ears to hear” and not others.

        Then, “one cannot derive from that figurative/prophetic language (of the parable) that every unbeliever in the world has to be *granted* ears to hear.”

        I see that one might suspect strongly such to be the case and draw a reasonable conclusion based on everything else we read in the Scripture.

        Then, “We “enter the kingdom” BY faith, not so that we can then get faith….No one must be born again to get faith.”

        John 3 says that one must be born again to enter the kingdom. You add that one must be born again and have faith to enter the kingdom (i.e., be saved). Which comes first must be fleshed out. The Calvinist would point to Ephesians 2 where God makes the unsaved alive and conclude that being born again precedes faith. Regardless if one is unsaved and “hears” the gospel thereby receiving faith whereupon they are born again, it would seem to deny what Jesus said, “The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.” You seem to be saying that faith makes the born again experience automatic and predictable.

        I’ll comment on your Romans analysis later.

      13. JR: “Romans 8…isn’t saying those in the flesh cannot repent and turn to God in faith”

        In your analysis of Hebrews, you said, “we need faith to come to God.” Unless you are parsing “turn to” to distinguish it from “come to,” you seem to be going both ways on this. Can you clarify what you believe? I see the point being that those in the flesh (the unsaved) require faith in order to repent and turn to God. Paul contrasts being in the flesh with being in the Spirit with no middle ground. It is because the believer is indwell by the Spirit that he no longer is ruled by the flesh (even though influenced as Romans 7 explains). As you say, “The chapter is contrasting two states: #1 subject to death because of sin by being in the ‘realm of the flesh’ and #2 given life by the indwelling Spirit of God.”

        Then, “The chapter is contrasting two states: #1 subject to death because of sin by being in the ‘realm of the flesh’ and #2 given life by the indwelling Spirit of God. It isn’t saying one is unable to pass from one state to the other without being given faith. “

        While Paul does not state explicitly that faith is needed start by saying, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” In Galatians, Paul wrote, “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us…so that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith….For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.” So, we can read Romans 8:1 as “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who [through faith] are in Christ Jesus.” In the Calvinist system, faith is critical to the transformation from being unsaved to saved. You seem to be distancing yourself from Calvinism by arguing against that role for faith. Are you?

        Then, “Believers, those in Christ Jesus, have been set free from the law of sin and death…Hence, since all fallen humans are lawbreakers, they cannot please God. This does not mean they cannot respond to the gospel in faith so that they THEN can please God, be governed by the Spirit, get new life, etc.”

        This is a key disagreement with Calvinism. Calvinism says that the unsaved can only respond to the gospel with faith. That is why the unsaved, who lack faith, cannot be saved by their own efforts and are Total Depravity/Total Inability. Hebrews is key here for the Calvinist, “…without faith it is impossible to please God, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.”

        Then, ‘To pass from death to life, a person trusts in Christ and the promises of God…Then, the person who formerly walked by the flesh can now walk by the indwelling Spirit and “please God” and submit to God.”

        In Ephesians 1, Paul writes, “In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation–having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise,…” So the unsaved listens to the gospel and consequently believes and then is indwell by the Holy Spirit that then provides him the ability to please God. So where does faith fit into this? In Acts, we read, “some days later, Felix arrived with Drusilla, his wife who was a Jewess, and sent for Paul, and heard him speak about faith in Christ Jesus.” In Galatians, “…a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus,…” Earlier in Romans, “Christ who was delivered up because of our transgressions, and was raised because of our justification. Therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand;”

        As Paul describes those in the flesh “…the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God;” he here speaks of having peace with God through faith. The bottom line is that Calvinism says that faith is necessary to salvation and precedes any other act of the person (i.e., “….walk by the indwelling Spirit and “please God” and submit to God.”) I understand you to be arguing against this position.

        As FOH wrote, “In case you did not know…..much of this has been said to him multiple times by multiple people in multiple ways using multiple Bible passages. It is GOOD that you are putting it out there for other interested parties to read, but I’m just letting you know that (a) he has seen most of this before and (b) since he is bringing significant presuppositions to the table I don’t think he can “hear” or see your logic. It’s a little bit like speaking a different language.” So, we see the distinction that the Calvinist makes with regard to faith and that which you, FOH, br.d and others make. If nothing else, the battle lines have been drawn once again.

      14. “Can you clarify what you believe? I see the point being that those in the flesh (the unsaved) require faith in order to repent and turn to God.”

        In Heb 11 it doesn’t say faith is required to respond to the gospel in faith or that faith is first required to repent and turn to God. Rather, it specifically states that faith is required to please God (which in context of the passage is to satisfy His requirement of righteousness, hence why God “credited” righteousness to those who believed God’s promises and acted on that faith. The entire chapter explores why faith is necessary to please God, using examples of people who trusted God’s promises, treating them as certain even when they did not personally see the fulfillment of them, and acted on that trust.

        Logical premises of the form, “A is required for B” do not mandate that “A is necessary to get A” – that would be nonsensical.

        Furthermore, Paul is writing Heb 11 to believers. The point of listing all these faithful followers of God from the OT is so that believers will not grow weary when they do not see God’s promises immediately fulfilled (Heb 11:39-40, Heb 12:1-3.) He isn’t saying, “Be glad you are among those specially chosen to have 100% assurance effectually conveyed to you, congrats you elect, you’ll never struggle or doubt at all!” No, he is telling them that they will face hardship, struggle, and adversity. They will not all immediately see the promises fulfilled. So, we should look to the examples of men of old who trusted even when the first coming of Christ was a long way off to encourage us to trust even when the second coming of Christ could be a long way off! We have certainty that the promise of His Second Coming is assured because we can look at His First Coming which was trusted by people living thousands of years before it happened. We can trust that the promises of God are assured because of His character, even when things seem slow by our standards.

        ” Paul contrasts being in the flesh with being in the Spirit with no middle ground.”

        For one, it is a logical fallacy (Specifically, the “fallacy of the excluded middle”) to automatically assume that when someone presents two contrasting states that there is no middle ground. For an example, imagine someone is describing living in the city vs. living in the country. Does that automatically mean that no one can live in the suburbs, or commute between the two? Etc. Unfortunately, Calvinism seems to do this a lot – presenting two extremes as if there is no middle option or no transition between stages.

        In the case of being in the flesh being in the Spirit, there isn’t much of a middle ground but there is one: the *transition* from death to life that happens when a believer first responds in faith and God graciously raises them to new life. Temporally, this basically happens in an instant. Col 2, Rom 6, and other passages detail this transition which is often summarized in the term “baptism” – passing from death to life.

        “And you have been made complete in Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority. In Him you were also circumcised in the putting off of your sinful nature, with the circumcision performed by Christ and not by human hands. And having been buried with Him in baptism, you were raised with Him through your faith in the power of God, who raised Him from the dead. When you were dead in your trespasses and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our trespasses, having canceled the debt ascribed to us in the decrees that stood against us. He took it away, nailing it to the cross! And having disarmed the powers and authorities, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.”
        Col 2:10-15

        Here is the sequence:

        1. Initial state: dead in trespasses
        2. Person has faith in the power of God
        3. Buried with Christ in baptism (Circumcised by Christ/Put off sin nature)
        4. God raises believer (makes believer alive with Christ)
        5. New state: Alive in Christ; forgiven; complete in Christ.

        This transition (baptism, death to life) is the ‘middle ground’ and is an essential part of soteriology. Baptism is how God makes us alive, how God initiates us into the New Covenant, how our old sin nature is put off and the righteous garments of Christ put on, etc.

        ” It is because the believer is indwell by the Spirit that he no longer is ruled by the flesh (even though influenced as Romans 7 explains).”

        Agreed. The believer puts ‘off’ the flesh in baptism (which really is Christ ‘circumcizing’ the believer, not the believers own power or action) and then God raises the believer to new life and gives the indwelling Spirit. So the *believer* is no longer ruled by the flesh.

        “While Paul does not state explicitly that faith is needed start by saying, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” In Galatians, Paul wrote, “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us…so that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith….For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.” So, we can read Romans 8:1 as “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who [through faith] are in Christ Jesus.” In the Calvinist system, faith is critical to the transformation from being unsaved to saved. You seem to be distancing yourself from Calvinism by arguing against that role for faith. Are you?”

        Of course faith is critical for the transformation from unsaved to saved. That’s been a large portion of my replies to you, as you seem to be saying that we need to be born again and given faith so that we can then repent and believe. But scripture shows the unsaved person that responds to the gospel in faith is THEN circumcised by Christ and made alive (born again) by God by God’s gracious choice to save believers and credit righteousness to them.

        Note the actual text of Gal 3:14 which you quote from:

        “He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.” Gal 3:14

        Do we receive faith so that we might be redeemed? Do we receive the Spirit so we may receive faith? No, through faith we receive (actively lay hold of, aggressively accept what is offered https://biblehub.com/greek/2983.htm) the promise of the Spirit. Jesus paid the redemption price as our Kinsman Redeemer so that anyone can, through faith, actively lay hold of the promise of the Spirit. The rest of the chapter just backs this up: the righteous live by faith, all those with faith are children of Abraham, we must rely on faith and not the law, etc.

        “This is a key disagreement with Calvinism. Calvinism says that the unsaved can only respond to the gospel with faith. That is why the unsaved, who lack faith, cannot be saved by their own efforts and are Total Depravity/Total Inability. Hebrews is key here for the Calvinist, “…without faith it is impossible to please God, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.”

        All of Christianity, not just Calvinists, believe that the unsaved cannot be saved by their own efforts. Calvinist does not say the unsaved “can only respond to the gospel with faith” – that’s opposite the Calvinist theory of Total Inability which claims the unsaved “CANNOT” or is “inable/unable” to respond to the gospel in faith. The Calvinist view of Total Depravity is not merely that man is unable to be saved of his own efforts or work of the law, but that fallen man is unable to respond to the gospel in faith. Since you are not representing Calvinism correctly, there isn’t much more I can say here. But if you do indeed believe that any unsaved person can respond to the gospel in faith (without being among the select few being ‘born again’ prior or effectually given faith, etc.) then you are not a Calvinist.

        “In Ephesians 1, Paul writes, “In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation–having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise,…” So the unsaved listens to the gospel and consequently believes and then is indwell by the Holy Spirit that then provides him the ability to please God. So where does faith fit into this?”

        The Greek word pístis can be translated either faith or belief – they are synonyms. The Greek word pisteuó can be translated either believing or ‘have faith in’ – again, synonyms.

        The unsaved person who hears the gospel and believes (verb) holds faith (noun.) Those who hold faith believe. Those who believe have faith.

        “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” Jn 3:16

        It’s worth noting that believing is not a one time action, but an ongoing state. Those who actively believe actively hold faith.

        “But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, i through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus. Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded. Because of what law? The law that requires works? No, because of the law that requires faith. For we maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law. Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles too? Yes, of Gentiles too, since there is only one God, who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through that same faith. Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law.” Rom 3:21-31

        God didn’t make people follow the law. In the same way, He doesn’t make some people have faith. Rather, faith is a person’s response in trust to God’s persuasion. In other ancient writings, pistis stood for a guarantee or warranty. The New Covenant in Christ’s blood is the guarantee of God’s promises – but one has to enter that Covenant by faith to accept that guarantee. If a man guarantees that his heirs will receive a billion dollars each, that does nothing for those who are not heirs. We are all heirs through faith.

        “Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw the signs I performed but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.” Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?” Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.” So they asked him, “What sign then will you give that we may see it and believe you? What will you do? Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written: ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’ Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is the bread that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”“Sir,” they said, “always give us this bread.” Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe. All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.”
        John 6:30-40

        Note a few things:
        – Believing in Christ is something man must ‘do’ in a sense. This is not described as a work of the law (as we know from other passages it certainly is not) but is likened to eating offered bread; trusting in that which God has provided.
        – The Father chooses to let anyone with faith come to Christ
        – The Father’s will is that anyone who looks to the Son and believes will be raised on the last day (parallel here to “looking” at the snake on a pole and being healed, and to Christ being lifted up so as to draw all men)
        – Seeing the proof right in front of you is not sufficient of itself to make someone believe

        ” In Acts, we read, “some days later, Felix arrived with Drusilla, his wife who was a Jewess, and sent for Paul, and heard him speak about faith in Christ Jesus.” In Galatians, “…a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus,…” Earlier in Romans, “Christ who was delivered up because of our transgressions, and was raised because of our justification. Therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand;”

        I am not sure what your point is here. That faith can be used as either a noun or a verb? Sure. But these scriptures are harmonious, not contradictory. Whoever *believes* in Christ is saved. We can rightly say then that we are saved “by grace, and through faith.”

        Look at the context of the verses you briefly reference:

        “Several days later Felix came with his wife Drusilla, who was Jewish. He sent for Paul and listened to him as he spoke about faith in Christ Jesus. As Paul talked about righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid and said, “That’s enough for now! You may leave. When I find it convenient, I will send for you.” At the same time he was hoping that Paul would offer him a bribe, so he sent for him frequently and talked with him.” Acts 24:24-26

        Was Paul speaking about a faith that would be effectually granted to some and not to others? No, he was talking about the faith in general: topics such as Christ, righteousness, self-control, judgement, etc. Feli was not unfamiliar with the topic, and his Jewish wife could presumably also shed light on the topic. That he was “frightened” showed he even had some conviction of conscience – at some level he feared, or even knew, that what Paul was saying was true. But Felix resisted personally believing because “he was hoping Paul would offer him a bribe” – not because “God didn’t effectually grant Felix faith.”

        “The bottom line is that Calvinism says that faith is necessary to salvation and precedes any other act of the person (i.e., “….walk by the indwelling Spirit and “please God” and submit to God.”) I understand you to be arguing against this position.”

        Of course faith is necessary to salvation and precedes the walk of the believer with God, sanctification, etc. But the Calvinist position is that man CANNOT have faith upon hearing the gospel (they are split on the solution. Prior regeneration, simply being given faith (not even from the person in that view, Christ’s faith being effectually applied to the person, irresistible proof given, etc.). You are assuming that rejection of the theory of Total Inability must somehow mandate rejection of the idea that God only grants salvation to those who believe in Christ – and there is no logical basis to claim that.

        “We see the distinction that the Calvinist makes with regard to faith and that which you, FOH, br.d and others make. If nothing else, the battle lines have been drawn once again.”

        No, you just have claimed without basis that “no one else” believes faith is necessary for salvation as if that is the “battle line” – even though everyone agrees faith is necessary for salvation. The “battle line” remains the theory of Total Inability, which you have as yet to support as necessary to scripture, and has of yet to respond to the many, many points and scriptures given that contradict it. Moving the goal posts and flitting around to other out-of-context scriptures rather than confronting verses in context is not the same as supporting a theory.

      15. Jenai
        Logical premises of the form, “A is required for B” do not mandate that “A is necessary to get A” – that would be nonsensical.

        br.d
        I LOVED this statement!!

        And the irony about this is – that is exactly the way Calvinist thinking works.

        Theological Determinism (first conceived by the Greek STOICS) presupposes a MODEL of causation where sequential events occur in a “CAUSAL CHAIN” leading back to a SOURCE/ORIGIN.

        However don’t waste your time trying to LOGICALLY walk a Calvinist back to the SOURCE/ORIGIN of his doctrine’s CAUSAL CHAIN.

        The ORIGINATOR, DESIGNER, SUSTAINER, and CONTROLLER of every movement of every link in the chain is Calvin’s god.

        So when it comes to evil events – the closer you try to walk the Calvinist back to the SOURCE/ORIGIN – the more *TERRIFIED* he gets! And for understandable reasons.

        And that’s why he will argue that “A is necessary to get A”

      16. JR: “In Heb 11 it doesn’t say faith is required to respond to the gospel in faith…”

        It says, “without faith it is impossible to please God,…” – This is an universal truth applicable across to any situation. If one desires to please, God, he must first have faith..

        But then, “for he who comes to God must believe…” The issue here is to discern the relationship between ‘believe” and “faith.” It seems reasonable to conclude that believing God is one way to please God. Given that faith is required to please God, we can conclude that faith precedes and provides the basis for believing. As responding to the gospel must please God, we can say that faith precedes a favorable response to the gospel.

        What we seem to have here is a definition of faith : Faith is “[believing] that God is, and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.” Faith and belief are separate concepts but one never appears without the other.

        So, is faith required to repent of one’s sin against God and turn to God. Something must excite a person to turn away from his sinful life. In Romans 10, Paul says, “the righteousness that is by faith…what does it say? “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,” that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming:” So, in Acts, “when [Paul and Barnabas] had arrived and gathered the church together, they began to report all things that God had done with them and how He had opened a door of faith to the Gentiles.” Paul preaches the word of faith and a door of faith is opened to unbelievers. Certainly faith is proclaimed to unbelievers and faith works on the unbelievers and then they respond in to that preaching in repentance acceptance of the gospel. I don’t see how faith can be excluded as a prime mover in driving people to God and Christ.

        Then, “For one, it is a logical fallacy (Specifically, the “fallacy of the excluded middle”)…Unfortunately, Calvinism seems to do this a lot – presenting two extremes as if there is no middle option or no transition between stages.”

        If you find where the Scriptures identify a middle ground between the flesh and the Spirit, I will yield on this point. Until then, I will maintain that there is no middle ground. It may be true that Calvinists present things as black or white, and I suspect that they do this because the scriptures do not allow for a gray middle. If this is a weakness in Calvinism, you are free to exploit it. Your example of baptism does not define a middle ground between flesh and spirit but illustrates the change from flesh to spirit. Colossians says, “God delivered us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” There is no middle ground here – we were in darkness and then we were in light. Again, “When you were dead in your trespasses and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ.” We were dead; then we were alive. There was no middle ground.

        But you argue, “This transition (baptism, death to life) is the ‘middle ground’ and is an essential part of soteriology. Baptism is how God makes us alive,”

        Paul is giving us an an illustration and that which God accomplished to save us. Christ circumcised the believer separating him form his sin nature, God buried the believer in Christ. the believer then hears the gospel preached and with the faith derived form the gospel, he finds himself raised to new life. Wrapping this up, Paul says, “When you were dead in your trespasses and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ.” In Ephesians, “You are saved through faith.” If you want “the ‘transition’ from death to life that happens when a believer first responds in faith” then I am fine with that as it puts faith in it’s proper place – the response in faith being calling on God to be saved. Thus we are saved by grace through faith.

        Then, “Of course faith is critical for the transformation from unsaved to saved. That’s been a large portion of my replies to you, as you seem to be saying that we need to be born again and given faith so that we can then repent and believe.”

        John 3 seems definitive to me – one must be born again in order to see and enter the kingdom (i.e., be saved). Being born again necessarily precedes and makes salvation possible. Having been born again, the preaching of the gospel becomes effective – faith comes by hearing. The ability to “see” and “enter” makes possible the ability to “hear.” We will just have to disagree on this and let it differentiate me as a Calvinist and you as a non-Calvinist.

        Then, “Do we receive faith so that we might be redeemed?” No, we were redeemed first and then those redeemed received faith through the gospel.
        Then, “Do we receive the Spirit so we may receive faith?” No, “after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation [so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.]–having also believed, you were sealed in Christ with the Holy Spirit of promise,”

        Then, “that’s opposite the Calvinist theory of Total Inability which claims the unsaved “CANNOT” or is “inable/unable” to respond to the gospel in faith.”

        No, it is, “…that’s opposite the Calvinist theory of Total Inability which claims the unsaved “CANNOT” or is “inable/unable” to respond to the gospel EXCEPT in faith. Total Inability is undone by faith as faith is Total ability. But you say, “Since you are not representing Calvinism correctly, there isn’t much more I can say here.” I am pretty sure that I have it right and it is you who have misrepresented Calvinism. Nowhere have I heard of a Calvinist saying that a person is unable to respond to the gospel in faith. Rather, the Calvinist says that faith is required for a person to respond to the gospel.

        More later.

      17. Jenai:

        I am not tracking all of the back-and-forth with you and RH (as I mentioned I dont dialog with him since he just goes ’round and ’round in illogical circles). But I happened to glance at this one he wrote:

        “If you find where the Scriptures identify a middle ground between the flesh and the Spirit, I will yield on this point. Until then, I will maintain that there is no middle ground. It may be true that Calvinists present things as black or white, and I suspect that they do this because the scriptures do not allow for a gray middle.”

        All of Calvinism is based on this black-n-white idea that EVERYTHING is flesh before (their) “regeneration” (dead, incapable, foolishness, etc) and NOTHING is flesh afterward.

        Of course Scripture does not bear this out as (Calvinist) Piper declares over and over in this article
        https://www.desiringgod.org/messages/the-war-within-flesh-versus-spirit

        Once again…. more waffling on the part of Piper and RH. The promise of “show me a middle ground and I will yield” will never be kept by him. There will be some convoluted “we never answered” retort. Whatever.

        Dead to Calvinists means dead….except when it doesnt. We are dead in Christ and dead to sin, but we sin and struggle with the flesh (which is black-n-white “over with” right?). Inconsistent. Illogical. Unbiblical.

        Good News! Listen world….You are dead and incapable of hearing the Gospel message!

        Good News! Listen church….You are dead to sin…but will struggle with the flesh your whole life.

      18. Ah, we both know the Calvinist cannot afford to concede a single point. It isn’t really that they are incapable of following logic, but that they cannot uphold their system apart from twisted, convoluted detours in hopes of keeping their inconsistencies from being exposed. Even when someone as logical and literate as Jenai points out the obvious holes in his arguments. RH really has no choice but to pretend like he doesn’t see that his arguments leak like a sieve.

        We’ve seen it hundreds of times: deny, deflect, rephrase, mock, challenge, call names. It is either that or admit the inescapable flaws in his system, which he has no intention of ever doing. Most, I would wager, come here with an earnest desire to re-examine important issues. Many have never heard a well thought out counter to the teachings of Calvinism.

        They can benefit from the insights of those who can see scripture from the Calvinist, non-Calvinist and anti-Calvinist perspectives. It is only when the alternatives are made known that people are able to be freed from the confines of a hideous and unsatisfying view of God. That is the beauty of this blog.

      19. Exactly correct!

        Calvin’s institutes of square-circles and married bachelors.
        The system is intrinsically irrational.

        SEMANTIC arguments – equivocations – and duplicitous inferential language is its strong suit.
        What is boldly asserted as TRUE or FALSE with one hand – is later SNUCK BACK with the other hand.
        Double-Think hidden within a smoke-screen of inferential language.

        That’s why Dr. Jerry Walls likens Calvinists to magicians.

        Semantic shell-games are an integral a part of the tradition.
        And the way it chooses to maintain an APPEARANCE of coherence.

      20. br.d:
        “And the way it chooses to maintain an APPEARANCE of coherence.”

        With ‘appearance’ being the key.

        I recall, in my first excursion into examining Calvinism, about 20 years ago, reading that the Calvinist TULIP had a certain internal logic. As long as one accepts the foundational concept of Total Depravity, or Inability, the remaining points are a logical outflow. Indeed, so interdependent are they that to remove even one of the petals is to destroy the illusion of a flower.

        Hence the fierce struggle to fend off the many and sound logical objections to various points. Total Depravity, meaning a walking corpse kind of ‘dead in sin’ is a severe and unjustified reading of scripture. Repeated calls from God to man, commands to righteousness and promises of positive responses from God to our mustard seed faith render such a reading nonsensical.

        The absurdity of the claim that God would deliberately blind and bind his creation to sin, rendering them helpless and hopeless, belittles the marvelous work of grace he undertook to redeem men from such a state. Or leaves him in the belittling state of causing problems so that he can solve them.

        Raised a non-Calvinist, I had never heard such a definition, and I laughed at the absurdity of it from the start. Not to mention my own personal experience with God, which belied such a false theory. My problem was that I did not realize, early on, that I could not toss off whichever tenets of Calvinism I found false and expect what was left to remain on solid ground.

        Even though I had read thousands of pages on Calvinism, I later discovered that the strategy of focusing on Calvinism vs. Arminianism tends to distract from fully investigating and understanding the base claims of the Calvinist system. One can knock down strawmen for decades before discovering they are not real, without getting to the root of the issues. A very clever strategy, that.

        It is literally impossible to speak and live as if Total Depravity, and its stepchild – Determinism – genuinely exist. Not a Calvinist preacher I have ever heard or read speaks as if either really exist. Instead they appeal to men to believe in God (or at least Calvinism), embrace their system, warn of the dangers of straying from it, encourage prayer and sanctification, all as if such things were possible by dead, completely controlled men and women.

        They were forced, in recent times, to invent the oxymoron known as Compatibilism, claiming that God’s predetermination of whatsoever comes to pass and its antithesis, man’s free choice, are at the same time true. Utterly impossible, and yet this is the smoke they must blow to cover the problem of their system making God the author and source of abuse, oppression, injustice and all evil.

        Has any Calvinist pastor honestly spoke as his system demands, asserting, ‘If you are elect, wait and see if God regenerates you so that you can see the glorious truth of what I am saying’? Do any declare, ‘Of course it will change nothing, since God has ordained all things in eternity past, but let us pray together, as God has commanded us to go through this pointless drill’? Do any, when approached by frantic parents, concerned about a particular sin or struggle of their child, assert, ‘There is no use worrying about it; if God wants him to be addicted to pornography, or become a serial killer, that is what will come to pass. We must accept God’s decrees and give him glory for them.’?

        I would assert that not only do pastors not speak as their system logically demands, they do not even think consistently Calvinistically. They somehow do not see the disconnect between what they claim to be true and how they actually think, speak and live every day. I only saw it when I studied the system and tried to understand how to logically, consistently apply it. I saw that it could not be done, without turning God into a monster or me into a lunatic.

        This is why atheists, many of who hold Calvinism as essential Christianity, so loudly guffaw at such a perverse, illogical belief system. This too, I once did not understand. I share their incredulous query, ‘Who could possibly believe such things?’ But, having been on the inside for a number of years, I no longer think many people actually do believe ‘such things’. They either have not examined the system closely, or have embraced, unthinkingly, the non-solutions they have been led to believe make it all possible:

        God is the sole source of whatsoever comes to pass, and man can be justly punished for what he has ordained.

        God both ordains whatsoever comes to pass in eternity past, and man is capable of, and culpable for his own actions as if they were freely chosen.

        God constantly commands men to do his will, obey his commands and turn from unrighteousness, while, unknown to the average man, making this entirely impossible until and unless he does a supernatural magic trick and makes a select few once again able.

        God loves mankind, but deliberately set out to condemn and/or destroy most of them.

        God is good, yet brought evil into existence because he longed for ‘glory’.

        These are a few of the troubling conundrums of Calvinism, which for the most part are ignored, denied or papered over with explanations that do not hold water. But if people really want to believe, for any number of reasons, this is enough to provide plausible cover, particularly when coupled with the charge to trust their ‘authorities’.

      21. TS00,
        Wow. Once again you are laying this out so clearly! Couple of affirmative comments:

        1. Indeed. I have said many times that it all hinges (is founded on) Total Depravity. If you START with TD as a presupposition…. (based on the faulty, presupposed interpretations of “flesh/spirit” or “‘dead’ = incapable,” or “gospel is foolishness”) then you must come up with the other 4 petals.

        2. Indeed. No one lives like determinism is true. We all think that we matter, that we make a difference. A longer time spent with our kids doing homework brings a better outcome. We know that to be true. Resisting evil: A little bad internet indiscretion leads to more, and then to porn, and to addiction and we know that is not God’s will (except for Calvinist-Determinists for whom it is “really must have been God’s sovereign will” to be addicted to porn).

        3. Compatibalism: If they had not come up with that, they would not have been able to fit into the greater evangelical community. I have heard card-carrying Calvinists say the most Arminian things: “strategies for winning the lost,” “prayer will change the outcome,” “how will they hear about Christ if you young people do not rise up and go?” “C’mon people, where is your faith?” etc etc etc. It just goes on and on. This allows them to function in the real world, since speaking like a Determinist (or living their theology) would really put them on the fringe.

        To this point, I have literally heard YRR friends of mine say “I believe, FOH, that it is 100% true that God decreed and decided all things before time, and also that compatibly He gives free will to men and makes them responsible. It is beyond our comprehension, but true.” So theology on the first part, and practical living/ actions/ prayers on the second part. Again, in practicality that makes them absolutely no different than any of us (except for their impugning of God’s character).

        4. Conundrums: To add to the list of conundrums: My Bible reading yesterday included John 20, which includes 20:31.

        “But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”

        The double conundrum here is
        (1) “These are written that you may believe” along with all the “convince” “reason with” “persuade” and “choose for yourselves this day” verses are all a hideous mockery if Determinism is true. Calvinism makes it looks like God is only pretending to make this offer to people.
        (2) Ironically the verse also says “by believing you may have life” —- but Calvinists’ “regeneration precedes faith” gives life BEFORE believing.

        But….. let it be known…… no matter what we say, we will hear back “you dont understand Calvinism” and “you are just setting up straw men” or “you are a semi-Polynesian” or “you are a universalist” ” or “you have a man-centered Gospel.”

        Same old same old.

      22. TS00 writes, “As long as one accepts the foundational concept of Total Depravity, or Inability,…”

        …that central concept being that no person is born with faith and cannot receive faith except through the hearing of the word. Until the non-Calvinist can undo that central doctrine, Calvinism will prevail and the empty arguments of TS00 will accomplish nothing lasting.

        Then, “Total Depravity, meaning a walking corpse kind of ‘dead in sin’ is a severe and unjustified reading of scripture.”

        Here, TSOO, knowing that TD is built on a faithless humanity and by corollary attributes spiritual deadness to a faithless humanity seeks to ridicule the clear truth of Scripture. Why doesn’t he just address the real issue – the necessity of faith both to both salvation and godly living.

      23. Total Ignoring of the countless explanations ml pthat faith is not a ‘thing’ (noun) that one receives but the noun referent to the verb ‘believe’, which is a chosen response to the presentation of alleged truth.

        He who hears God’s revelation of who he is and what he promises has a choice: he will either believe and receive the declared revelation, or he will deny and reject its veracity.

      24. “…faith is not a ‘thing’ (noun) that one receives but the noun referent to the verb ‘believe’, which is a chosen response to the presentation of alleged truth.”

        That’s a great way of putting it.

        If faith were a physical object, then one might could claim something like A is needed for B: “One needs a snorkel to then go snorkeling.” But faith is a concept, specifically, the persuasion that something is true, assured, or guaranteed. Saying “the persuasion is that something is true is necessary to be persuaded that something is true” doesn’t make sense if one is using it in terms of sequence or precedence. At best it is a tautology, like “love is necessary to love.” It is not of the form “A is necessary to then get A” or “Object A is necessary for action B.” Believes in Jn 3:16 and elsewhere just means to “hold (verb) faith (noun).” In Greek that is combined into one verb; pisteuó; to be persuaded of/place confidence in/believe, etc. “Believing” is often the translator’s choice for holding faith, since “holding faith” sounds a bit clunky in English.

        Unlike a snorkel which is a physical object necessary to then do the action of snorkeling, if one wanted, faith (noun) and faith (verb) automatically go together with no sequence of time or logic precedence. Believing is just the state of having faith. If one has the persuasion that something is true, one believes it. If one feels love (noun) for another person, they love (verb) that person. If one has mental activity, then one is thinking. If one is thinking, that one has mental activity. Etc.

        [Now, faith as a noun is not always used in scripture of personal faith, but is sometimes used as a generic reference to Christian belief or the gospel message as a whole. Context and sometimes grammar generally make clear whether personal faith or “The Faith” is meant.]

        We receive the promises of God, such as the indwelling Spirit, imputed righteousness, eternal life, etc. by faith (Gal 3, etc.) It is not faith itself that we effectually receive from without.

        [I do realize that II Pet 1:1 is often translated “received a faith” – but this is not the typical Greek word for receive used elsewhere in scripture when talking about receiving righteousness or the Spirit by faith. The connotations are not those of accepting/taking a gift or having something irresistibly forced/given, but “to be allotted” or determined by lot, in context showing that the Gentiles, not just the Jews, had been determined by God to have a share in salvation and for believing Gentiles to receive the Holy Spirit, and that Jewish believers were not superior to the Gentiles, and possibly a sense that the ministry to/of Gentile believers was as important as that of the first believers. See Acts 11:17, Acts 15:8, Acts 1:17, I Pet 1:7, etc. in their various contexts.

        Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
        “It was in and by the righteousness of God, the absence in Him of any “respect of persons,” that Jew and Gentile had been placed on an equality. So taken the words present a suggestive parallel with Acts 10:34; Acts 15:8-9.”]

      25. JR, responding to TS00, “Believes in Jn 3:16…”

        The Greek term is a participle, and would be best translated as “believing ones.” Thus, only the believing ones (whosoever believes) are given eternal life. The issue in John 3:16 are the unbelieving ones. If God loves them and gave His son for them, what does He do with them? Does God condemn people He loves and for whom He gave His son? Yes, people will answer – because they did not believe. Then, how is it that one believes and one does not. In John 10, referring to the Jews, Jesus said, “you do not believe, because you are not of My sheep. My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they shall never perish;” This reinforces that which Jesus said in John 6, “All that the Father gives Me shall come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out.”

        Then, “If faith were a physical object, then one might could claim something like A is needed for B: “One needs a snorkel to then go snorkeling.” But faith is a concept, specifically, the persuasion that something is true, assured, or guaranteed.”

        Faith, the translation of the noun, is a tangible concept – it is real. It is the “persuasion that something is true, assured, or guaranteed” or “assurance and conviction” as Hebrews 11 defines it. I agree that “saying ‘the persuasion is that something is true is necessary to be persuaded that something is true” doesn’t make sense” Thus, the Calvinist follows the translators in saying that faith (being persuaded) is necessary to believing (action taken consequent to that faith or persuasion). The distinction is between a noun normally translated as “faith, a verb normally translated as “believe/believing.

      26. rh writes:
        ” Thus, the Calvinist follows the translators in saying that faith (being persuaded) is necessary to believing (action taken consequent to that faith or persuasion).”

        Still makes no sense. Faith is not a ‘thing’ which can be received, as all of Jesus’ references to faith show. He is surprised at some men’s greater faith, and displeased at others’ lack thereof, neither of which would make sense if man was just some passive recipient of faith upon God’s whim. Nor is having faith/believing an action.

        What, in rhutchin’s definition of faith, is one being persuaded of, and what, consequently, does one believe? As always, it is just word salad crafted to muddy the waters. The pretense that faith and believing are two different things is only necessitated by faulty presuppositions. Having faith in and believing God’s promises are one and the same thing, as most would understand from the various usages. Of course one must look past the English words, as they are merely translations by imperfect men with their own presuppositions.

        Having scriptural faith is believing in who God is and what he says, as Hebrews explains. The two English words are synonyms, in scripture as well as other usage. What, one wonders, is this imaginary substance Calvinists call faith, that differs from belief? Having faith is not being regenerated so one can believe, as Calvinism appears to suggest; regeneration is God’s promised gift of making new in response to man’s faith. Only those who believe receive this gift of life.

        But rhutchin understands quite well how the vast majority of believers interpret such things, even when he feigns ignorance.

      27. But wait….. there’s more!

        Faith is what you say TS00 and ….. we also know this….

        Christ “marveled because of their unbelief.” [Just give them faith!]

        Christ weeps about their unbelief [Just give them faith!]

        Christ rebukes his followers for their unbelief. [Just give them faith!]

        Jesus marvels (again) AT faith “When Jesus heard these things, he marveled at him, and turning to the crowd that followed him, said, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.” Luke 7:9 (Calvinist ESV). [Didn’t He give the faith?…. why marvel?]

        Jesus is marveling (amazed) and is saying that He “found” this man’s faith.

        None of these make any sense if faith is the object that is handed out by Christ.

      28. Scripture provides all the examples we need!

        It’s just that some people filter obvious stories and narratives through a pre-disposed lens ….given them the answer they came to the passage to find (and of course rendering the passage meaningless, or worse a mockery).

      29. TS00 writes, “Having faith is not being regenerated so one can believe, as Calvinism appears to suggest; regeneration is God’s promised gift of making new in response to man’s faith.”

        It is statements like this that make one wonder if you even understand Calvinism. Regeneration, per John 3 (being born again) enables one to both “see” and “enter” the kingdom of God. The proclamation of the gospel reveals the kingdom that one has been enabled to see and enter Through that faith conveyed by the gospel, one has assurance and conviction and enters the kingdom of God – is saved.

      30. The Calvinist thinks he was eternally immutably predestined as special to God and to be born as among the few to get a nature that irresistibly would play out that special status. He thinks he was born already an elect one, a sheep of God’s fold, beloved.

        So much for their “worm theology”, which is a smoke screen, imo, for what seems like a latent narcissism theology. It’s like hearing them say, “I’m connected to God eternally immutably and you reprobates who never were loved by God like me are not!”

        There are some, I believe, who don’t see how their chosen theology makes them appear… and how it also makes God look very partial, even though He clearly says He is without partiality when it comes to providing and offering salvation.

        Romans 2:11 NKJV — For there is no partiality with God.
        Romans 11:32 NKJV — For God has committed them all to disobedience, that He might have mercy on all.
        Psalm 145:8-9 NKJV — The LORD is gracious and full of compassion, Slow to anger and great in mercy. The LORD is good to all, And His tender mercies are over all His works.
        John 1:1,4,7,9 NKJV — In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men…. that all through him might believe….That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world.
        John 3:17 NKJV — For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.

      31. Beautiful. This is the gospel that brings repentance, hope and peace. The chosen people theology was long ago declared untrue, yet many still cling to it. We are all loved, and God desires that all turn from wickedness, embrace his freely offered pardon and receive everlasting life. If you did not understand this clearly, O Calvinist friend, please ponder the difference between your gospel and the true gospel.

      32. You know I agree Brian.

        The problem is that Calvinists have the same Bible we do. They just take those verses you listed and make them mean something different than we do. That also take 30 verses or so and use them as a filter for the whole Bible. Certain things “must” be true (presuppositions) and all else must be made to fit that filter.

        But the bottom line is that they spend their entire focus proving and declaring that the message of the Bible is:

        God loves a tiny portion of humanity and “made-certain” their salvation (and of course made certain the damnation all of the rest) “for His Glory.” He damns “God-haters” (but He created them to be that way….”for His glory”).

        At its base, it is not a very “glorious” message and certainly NOT “Good News” ….unless you are one of the very, very few.

      33. Frankly, I don’t see it as good news even for the elect. Who would want to spend eternity with a god like that? Who can look him honestly in the face and say, ‘Hey, I’m perfectly fine with you damning my grandmother, neighbor and best friend. No really, what glory that demonstrates.’ No one.

      34. FOH writes, “That also take 30 verses or so and use them as a filter for the whole Bible. Certain things “must” be true….”

        Yes, the Scripture must be true and the Scripture filters out untruth.

      35. brianwagner writes, “He was born already an elect one, a sheep of God’s fold, beloved.”

        As Paul describes it, “…when God who had set me apart, even from my mother’s womb, and called me through His grace, was pleased to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with flesh and blood,…”

        Then, ‘It’s like hearing them say, “I’m connected to God eternally immutably and you reprobates who never were loved by God like me are not!””

        I guess that your rendition of Paul’s attitude toward the reprobate. It’s not how the Calvinist sees Paul.

      36. Paul being set apart for service for the sake of God’s eternal plan, even from birth, is not the same thing as every person who ever lived being either decreed to be regenerated/given faith so they definitely will be saved or decreed to never have faith or even be able to respond in faith so that they definitely will be condemned.

        Scripture shows at times specific people set apart for a crucial time (Prophets, judges, Christ, etc.) Even those prophets are shown with the ability to obey or disobey – even with Jesus it is heavily implied that He technically could ask for a legion of angels to rescue Him or escape the cross, but that He will not and submits to the Father instead for the sake of the joy set before Him/eternal plan of redemption. But, in the lives of those people we see God work in special, out of the ordinary ways such as visions, burning bushes, sending angels, etc. in order to show them their call to service and aid them during it. None of those prophets or people claimed to call themselves or set themselves apart (which was one of the errors of the Pharisees, – they appointed themselves as the religious guards of Israel.) Paul didn’t create the vision on the Damascus road, it was revealed to him by God that the one he persecuted was Christ.

        Paul being set apart is yet another example of Calvinists using examples of the particular (events scripture shows as unusual/different from the norm) to somehow represent the usual (and also going beyond what the text explicitly says to apply it to personal salvation rather than in it’s context of service/ministry.)

      37. JR: “Paul being set apart for service for the sake of God’s eternal plan, even from birth, is not the same thing as every person who ever lived being either decreed to be regenerated/given faith so they definitely will be saved or decreed to never have faith or even be able to respond in faith so that they definitely will be condemned.”

        No, but it does tell us that God had a plan and Paul was part of His plan. What was God’s plan for Paul, “I might preach Him among the Gentiles.” In Ephesians, Paul adds this,”you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ…the Gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel, of which I was made a minister…” Then, Paul writes, “He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world,” Of Israel, Paul writes, “For they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel;..That is, it is not the children of the flesh who are children of God, but the children of the promise are regarded as descendants.” Paul reminds us that Isaiah had foretold this, “Isaiah cries out concerning Israel: “Though the number of the Israelites be like the sand by the sea, only the remnant will be saved.”

        To this plan, we can add all the prophecies on the OT concerning the coming of Christ and all the prophecies in the NT of the second coming of Christ and of the end. We can reasonably conclude that God has not left anything to chance, but “works all things after the counsel of His will.” Calvinists appeal to the whole of Scripture not just, “Paul being set apart is yet another example of Calvinists using examples of the particular (events scripture shows as unusual/different from the norm) to somehow represent the usual (and also going beyond what the text explicitly says to apply it to personal salvation rather than in it’s context of service/ministry.)” Your conclusion betrays a bias against Calvinism that is not warranted.

      38. “No, but it does tell us that God had a plan and Paul was part of His plan.”

        No one disagrees that God has a plan. The crucial difference between Calvinists and non-Calvinists is that for the Calvinist the ‘plan’ includes the predetermined destiny of every individual (and for many Calvinists, every thought and action of that individual as well): that a select few would be assured to become believers (by some method such as regeneration, being given faith, irresistible grace, etc.) while the rest are predetermined to stay in their condemned state with no hope of redemption. For the non-Calvinist, God’s eternal plan regarding salvation refers to how God has intervened in history to create the nation of Israel, set apart prophets and priests and kings, set the boundaries and rise and fall of nations, and send the Redeemer at the right time in history to die on the cross. For individuals, God’s plan is that any who respond to the gospel in faith/believe in Christ will be graciously pardoned, forgiven, baptized, adopted, reconciled, etc.

        “What was God’s plan for Paul, “I might preach Him among the Gentiles. In Ephesians, Paul adds this,”you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ…the Gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel, of which I was made a minister…””

        Yes. God specifically called Paul into ministry that he would go to spread the gospel to the Gentiles. The ministry of Jesus’ apostles was primarily, though not entirely, to the Jews. Paul established countless churches, and the Holy Spirit even intervened at times to guide him or even translate him to where God wanted.

        “Then, Paul writes, “He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world,”

        Yes. Read Eph 1 in it’s context. Look at the audience – the “faithful in Christ Jesus.” God chose the faithful in Christ Jesus, before the foundation of the world, to be made Holy. The Ephesian church was also included in Christ, hence predestined to be adopted and made Holy and conformed to Christ, etc., when they believed. God chose those in Christ (believers) to be holy and predestined those in Christ (believers) to be adopted. Eph 1:1-14 does not state that God predestined anyone to be, or not to be, a believer or to be in Christ!

        God also seals those in Christ (the faithful in Christ Jesus whom Paul is addressing) with the Holy Spirit as a down payment of our future inheritance of eternal life.

        Predestination deals with God’s omnipotence and omniscience. The word itself means to “to mark out beforehand’; to pre-establish limits and boundaries. Specifically, this word references how God set limits/boundaries/laws upon everything before creation. He set the laws of physics, placed the boundaries of the sea, determined the eternal plan by which mankind would be saved, (Prov 8:22-31, Eph 1:3-10, Eph 3:10-11, Job 38:33, Rom 8:29, etc), set the rules by which deliverance and pardon are obtained (Num 25:22-29, Jer 26:1-6, II Chron 7:14, John 3:16, Heb 10:11-18, Luke 4:14-21, Heb 9:22, Matt 5:29, Isa 45:22-25), etc.

        In the plan of salvation, God also predestined it to include the gentiles, not just the Jews (Eph 3:2-12, Rom 3:21-31, Rom 9:1-26, Rom 15:5-13, John 1:11-13, Isa 45:9-10, Rom 9:11-16, etc). It is this aspect of predestination that Eph 1 deals with in-depth.

        God elected a people for Himself, the body of Christ, both Jew and Gentile. (I Pet 2:7-10, II Pet 1:2, Rom 1:1-3, II Tim 2:1-13, etc). His calling this people is by His grace, not by any of our own works (I Pet 2:9-10, Eph 2:8-10, Rom 11:1-6). The Jews thought they alone were the ‘Chosen People’ of God, and were resistant to the idea of the Gentiles being brought into God’s flock as well. In context, Paul is speaking here of how God pre-determined before time that both Jew and Gentiles would be brought into the kingdom of God through Christ; any who would put their hope in Christ (Eph 1:11-14).

        “Of Israel, Paul writes, “For they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel;..That is, it is not the children of the flesh who are children of God, but the children of the promise are regarded as descendants.” Paul reminds us that Isaiah had foretold this, “Isaiah cries out concerning Israel: “Though the number of the Israelites be like the sand by the sea, only the remnant will be saved.””

        Yes – true Israel is of the promise given to Abraham, NOT ethnic descent from Abraham. God planned that inclusion in Israel be by faith in the promise, not by ethnicity or works of the flesh. Nothing in Rom 9 or 11 hints that God pre-picked who would be given faith in that promise while others were pre-doomed to never be able to believe the promise.

        Rather, again, we see that the grafting in of Gentiles is by belief, but that ethnic Israelites can be broken off due to unbelief.

        “To this plan, we can add all the prophecies on the OT concerning the coming of Christ and all the prophecies in the NT of the second coming of Christ and of the end.”

        The plan of salvation being offered and accomplished by Christ and granted to believers, yes. The Calvinist plan of individuals being pre-chosen by God, apart from faith but just by God’s choice, to definitely get faith and believe or definitely never be able to have faith? No – nowhere in those prophecies of the coming of Christ and the end.

        The nation of Israel was elect due to God’s own choice (Ezek 16:5-7, Deut 10:15, Isa 45:4). Israel entered the covenant with God to confirm this (Deut 29:9-15), but they still rebelled, and thought salvation was by works and not the promise (Jer 4:22).

        While to the Jews it seemed as if God allowing the gentiles in would be changing his mind or contrary to His promise, the offer of salvation to the gentiles had truly been God’s plan from the start. Just as God had fore-determined the boundaries and subdivisions of the promised land, so He had fore-determined the purpose, plan, and promises of salvation, the structure and limits of the true church under the headship of Christ (I Pet 1:3-9, Rom 9:6-26, I Pet 2:10).

        In similar manner, we didn’t chose the way of salvation (God did), nor did we chose our own gifts or ministries (God did). We are, however, to have faith and follow (John 15:16, John 12:25-26).

        In Eph 1; predestination shows that Christians are the church, the body of Christ (Col 1:18, I Cor 12:12, Col 3:14-16, Eph 4:14-16). All those in Christ (those with faith) are the ‘elect’, those predestined to be holy, the people of God joined together under the headship of Christ (1 Peter 2:4-9). We all become part of the elect/the church through faith; and those with faith are made holy; a plan God predestined long before time, Israel, or the law.

        ” We can reasonably conclude that God has not left anything to chance, but “works all things after the counsel of His will.””

        That isn’t a reasonable conclusion. “Chance” is merely a set of finite variables operating inside of God’s created universe and the natural laws He made – laws He can supersede as needed. Does God setting the boundary of the sea mean He “must” push around every water molecule and sculpt every wave Himself lest “chance” somehow derail His boundaries? Does God creating every nation of men from Adam, to inhabit the whole Earth, determining the appointed times of the nations and the boundaries of their lands, in the hopes that men would seek him (Acts 17:26-28) mean that God *must* control the individual destinies, individual thoughts, individual actions, etc. of all individuals, to the point of ensuring that many just can’t seek him at all or find Him, lest they somehow overturn His boundaries?

        Of course not. The actions, thoughts, and movements of man are finite variables, not infinite ones. And the universe is not a closed system, since God can operate on it at will (such as to perform miracles, call prophets, servants, etc.)

        As for God working all things after the counsel of His will doesn’t mean He *determines* all things as He pleases. For one, the Greek word for working here is more like “engaged in” or energizing – that is, He is a present God, not a God from a distance, who is actively involved in the affairs of men and working to bring about His sovereign plan over history. God planned the promises, salvation, the reconciliation and adoption of believers, etc. according to His own council, purpose, and will – not according to any work or wisdom of man, before He created time. Jesus, the lamb slain from the ‘foundation of the world’ (Rev 13:8, John 1:1), would enter history at the proper time to die for our sins and bring all who believed into His body, the church (Gal 4:3-7, Rom 10:4, Col 1:15-23, I Pet 1:19-20, Eph 1:4, II Tim 1:8-9, John 3:16-18). Then, eternal life will be granted us (our inheritance) at the end of the ages, when all things are fulfilled in Christ and He presents the church to Himself as a radiant bride (Eph 1:9-11, Eph 5:25-33, Titus 1:1). The council of God’s will can quite easily include the will to give libertarian freedom to man, it is not proof against it!

        “Calvinists appeal to the whole of Scripture”

        Citing a lot of out-of-context verse references and appealing to presuppositions to interpret them, while simultaneously ignoring other sections of scripture, is not appealing to the whole of scripture. You cannot synthesize a cohesive and Biblical model without first analyzing all the component parts. And to analyze a passage or scripture, you have to start with context, audience, Greek or Hebrew word meaning and grammar, parallel text, literary category, etc. You also need to avoid presuppositions that may falsely color an interpretation, avoid reading every possible connotation into a term or phrase without checking context, avoid over-literalizing figurative language, etc. If two passages seem to contradict when all this is done, go over them again and see if anything has been missed. When putting the parts together, one has to avoid reading in more presuppositions or using fallacious reasoning.

        I reject Calvinism because over the past 15+ years I’ve analyzed the various verses used to “prove” the view. The majority have turned out to be out of context, or reliant on a presupposition not even hinted at in scripture but more at home in Greek philosophy. A few are possible interpretations, but over-extrapolated, so while those verses don’t directly contradict the view, they don’t support the view to the exclusion of other possibilities. Still others over-literalize figurative language, even when it contradicts other passages. Etc.

        For a non-Calvinist example: in the U.S.A., a pre-millenial, pre-trib rapture view has become very popular and one of the main ‘teachers’ on it currently is Walvoord. Before I started studying in depth, it was the theory I leaned towards since it is the one I had been exposed to growing up, and most of the Bible notes I had seen promoted that view. But I took his list of 100+ support verses and started going through them to test the theory anyway, since my church group was going to start studying Revelations and I wanted to research it for myself. Only, I didn’t find what I expected! I had three highlighters – green for in-context verses which strongly supported the view; yellow for verses which were ambiguous enough that they could support the view but could just as easily support others, or verses which really didn’t clearly speak to the topic at all; and red for verses that within their own text/context seemed to contradict the view. I expected mostly green; what I got was mostly yellow, no greens, and a handful of reds.

        What was interesting though as my local church in sermons and in Bible Studies looked at eschatology (from a completely biased and one-sided perspective) for a while was just how many people thought the *number* of verses Walvoord used was the same thing as “proof” – or held the idea that because Walvoord could create a “nice system where everything is explained and put in a box (my church group has a lot of engineers, lol)” that was the same thing as being “Biblically sound.”

        Calvinist offers a system-in-a-box, which is very appealing to many, and on the surface can refer to many verses as ‘support’ – it’s only when those verses are analyzed *without* presupposing Calvinism as true that countless problems with context, word-use, logic, scriptural harmony, etc. show up.

        “Your conclusion betrays a bias against Calvinism that is not warranted.”

        Not being willing to take logical fallacies as sound reasoning or take out-of-context scripture as “proof” doesn’t mean I am letting bias color my conclusions.

        By analogy, imagine this argument:

        Albert: “The ice cream shop owner on the corner, Doug, determines the flavors of ice-cream everyone will purchase.”
        Tom: “Why do you think that?”
        Albert: “He only offers two flavors.”
        Tom: “That means choices are limited, not that everyone has to pick what Albert chooses.”
        Albert: “But he owns the shop. He’s sovereign over what happens inside it.”
        Tom: That means He governs who can come in – such as ‘no shirt, no shoes, no service,’ he picks the method by which they can obtain the ice cream, such as it or offering a free sample they can try. He can even call the cops if they don’t pay.” It doesn’t mean he always picks the flavor they get.
        Albert: “But Bill wanted vanilla when he went in, only the shop owner gave him a sample of the chocolate to try and he ate that – then Bill bought the chocolate.”
        Tom: So the shop owner used his position to influence a decision. That didn’t determine Bill would pick chocolate, let alone show that Doug determines the choices of all who enter.
        Albert: “But Sally came in and Doug gave her a free chocolate!”
        Tom: Which would be him using his authority as shop-keeper to offer her a chocolate – she still could have refused it, or bought a vanilla the normal way. Besides, Sally is his niece. She’s the exception, not the rule.
        Albert: You’re just biased against my argument!

      39. Jenai,
        Enjoy your posts!

        If only they used Scripture and logic they would agree with you!

        Per this one and your earlier post ….

        Calvinists often say that God determines everything, and they use to prove it the phrases said about Jeremiah, David, and Joseph (Gen 50). I have posted here and elsewhere that this actually DISPROVES (not proves) their point. God is telling us WHEN He acts in a special way (that sometimes He acts in a special way).

        If He ALWAYS acted this way (micromanaging / determining every person) then He would not be saying anything special about David and Jeremiah. (Kinda like: “Yeah, you say you called Jeremiah in a special way God, but Calvinists tell us that you do that same for everybody, Attila the Hun included….. so nothing ‘special’ to see here.”)

      40. I misread this initially. To clarify, I believe that you meant if only Calvinists used logic and scripture they would agree with her’, not, if only her posts used logic and scripture’. Correct?

      41. Absolutely correct. You know me too well TruthSeeker!

        She does use both logic and Scripture.

      42. That’s an excellent point FOH!

        If the God of scripture takes the time to spell out things he is doing with a certain individual – then that is him expressing what he is doing with one specific individual out of many thousands of other people living at that time. If he were micro-managing every human being that lives he would express that instead of expressing what he is doing with one specific individual or one a group of people that belong to 12 tribes. And even then in most of those events mentioned in scripture – there are no indications that he is determining that person’s every neurological impulse to make them think and act the way he determines them to think and act. There fore those events do not represent examples of micromanaging human beings. And actually represent rare occasions.

      43. JR: For the non-Calvinist,…God’s plan is that any who respond to the gospel in faith/believe in Christ will be graciously pardoned, forgiven, baptized, adopted, reconciled, etc.”

        Your description does not distinguish the Calvinist from the non-Calvinist. The key phrase is, “…any who respond to the gospel in faith/believe in Christ…” We know that some do not hear the gospel, so they cannot respond in faith. We know tat, of those who he experience the gospel being preached, some respond in faith and some do not. The Calvinist would say that some were able to “hear” the gospel and others were not. How do we account for this? The Calvinist says that God gave faith to the ones who responded and did not give faith to the ones who did not respond. You can propose a non-Calvinist explanation for this outcome, if you want.

        then, “God specifically called Paul into ministry…”

        Agreed – nothing controversial here.

        Then, “God chose the faithful in Christ Jesus, before the foundation of the world, to be made Holy….Eph 1:1-14 does not state that God predestined anyone to be, or not to be, a believer or to be in Christ!”

        You lost me. Given that God did the choosing before the foundation of the world, how is that not God deciding to make certain people holy and not others? Could we not say, “God predestined the faithful in Christ Jesus, before the foundation of the world, to be made Holy.” In Romans 8, we see that those God predestined to be holy, He then called to Christ and then justified. Those not predestined to eb holy are the reprobate.

        Then, “God also seals those in Christ (the faithful in Christ Jesus whom Paul is addressing) with the Holy Spirit as a down payment of our future inheritance of eternal life.”

        Agreed, as Paul explains, “In Christ, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation–having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise,” Those God predestined to be holy before the foundation of the world then hear the gospel in the course of time and respond by believing and then are sealed by the Holy Spirit. Do we agree on that order?

        Then, ‘In the plan of salvation, God also predestined it to include the gentiles,…It is this aspect of predestination that Eph 1 deals with in-depth.”

        OK. I see Paul dealing with both Jews and gentiles by his descriptor, “Paul…to the saints who are at Ephesus, and who are faithful in Christ Jesus:” As Paul intended that this letter be read by the other churches given the nature of the teaching as applying to all believers. Thus, Ephesians can be understood to apply to both Jewish and gentile believers and both would take encouragement from the first chapter.

        Then, “Nothing in Rom 9 or 11 hints that God pre-picked who would be given faith in that promise while others were pre-doomed to never be able to believe the promise.”

        No hint?? Paul says that the children of promise are saved. Paul then writes, “For this is a word of promise:” and he now explains how the promise works. First, it was Sarah’s son who was the child of promise; not Ismail. Then, Jacob is the child of promise and not Esau. If Isaac and Jacob were not pre-picked then what were they? In Paul’s explanation, we are to understand that the Children of Promise are those chosen by God “in order that God’s purpose according to His choice might stand, not because of works, but because of Him who calls.”

        So, you write, “The Calvinist plan of individuals being pre-chosen by God, apart from faith but just by God’s choice, to definitely get faith and believe or definitely never be able to have faith?” Yes, as God’s choosing of Isaac over Ismail and Jacob over Esau demonstrates.

        Then, “The nation of Israel was elect due to God’s own choice…but they still rebelled,”

        This leads Paul to explain that God’s word had not failed as the children of promise were always in view to be saved.

        Then, “We all become part of the elect/the church through faith; and those with faith are made holy; a plan God predestined long before time, Israel, or the law. ”

        And it is God who gives faith to His elect because He has predestined them to holiness before the foundation of the world and then called to Christ in the course of time..

      44. JR: Albert: “The ice cream shop owner on the corner, Doug, determines the flavors of ice-cream everyone will purchase.”
        Tom: “Why do you think that?”
        Albert: “He only offers two flavors.”

        It should be
        “Albert: He only offers one flavor to some and the other flavor to the others.
        Tom: “That means each person’s choice is limited to the one flavor he is offered, and everyone has to pick what Albert chooses to give them.”

        The analogy is off if the intent was to portray Calvinism.

      45. JR: Albert: “The ice cream shop owner on the corner, Doug, determines the flavors of ice-cream everyone will purchase.”
        Tom: “Why do you think that?”
        Albert: “He only offers two flavors.”

        It should be
        “Albert: He only offers one flavor to some and the other flavor to the others.
        Tom: “That means each person’s choice is limited to the one flavor he is offered, and everyone has to pick what Albert chooses to give them.”

        The analogy is off if the intent was to portray Calvinism.

        br.d
        Actually JR’s two statements by “Albert” do represent Calvinism accurately.

        You’re replacement analogy also expresses truth concerning Calvinism -but expresses different points about it.

        But both are correct.

        As a mater of fact your analogy is quite LOGICALLY coherent with Adam in a Determinist world.
        In Theological Determinism (aka Calvinism) – as your analogy shows – it is case that only one choice was made available to Adam.
        The ice-cream flavor called “disobedience” was the only flavor made available to Adam.
        And as you say in your analogy – Adam had to pick what Calvin’s god choose to give him.

      46. “JR: Albert: “The ice cream shop owner on the corner, Doug, determines the flavors of ice-cream everyone will purchase.”
        Tom: “Why do you think that?”
        Albert: “He only offers two flavors.”

        It should be
        “Albert: He only offers one flavor to some and the other flavor to the others.
        Tom: “That means each person’s choice is limited to the one flavor he is offered, and everyone has to pick what Albert chooses to give them.”

        The analogy is off if the intent was to portray Calvinism.”

        ?? My analogy was meant to portray the illogic of the various *supports* you have been using to support Calvinism, claiming that they prove the initial premise. Even if you change the first line from “Doug determines the flavors of ice cream…” to “Doug must only offer one flavor to some and other flavors to others” that doesn’t change the analogy, which is not about Albert’s first premise but about how his “support claims” do not really prove it.

        I did not set up my analogy by saying,
        “I am going to make an analogy about Calvinism” but rather “Not being willing to take logical fallacies as sound reasoning or take out-of-context scripture as “proof” doesn’t mean I am letting bias color my conclusions.” The analogy is so you can better see why generalizing from the particular is a logical fallacy and why other ‘supports’ you have given do not support your conclusion at all.

        Now, I did pick the initial argument, that Albert thinks Doug must determines the flavors of ice-cream everyone will purchase, based on some of your own own prior words about God decreeing everything that occurs. We can use yours instead if you want (albeit modified since yours is asserting the conclusion as a proof, which is circular reasoning, AND makes the mistake of thinking that everyone must pick what is offered rather than leave, which is a fallacy all of it’s own…)

        Albert: “The ice cream shop owner on the corner, Doug, must only offer one flavor of ice cream to every person that comes in and disallows them to buy the others.
        Tom: “Why do you think that?”
        Albert: “He only offers two flavors in the shop in general.”
        Tom: “That means choices are limited, not that everyone has to pick what Albert chooses.”
        Albert: “But he owns the shop. He’s sovereign over what happens inside it.”
        Tom: That means He governs who can come in – such as ‘no shirt, no shoes, no service,’ he picks the method by which they can obtain the ice cream, such as it or offering a free sample they can try. He can even call the cops if they don’t pay.” It doesn’t mean he always picks the flavor they get.
        Albert: “But Bill wanted vanilla when he went in, only the shop owner gave him a sample of the chocolate to try and he ate that – then Bill bought the chocolate.”
        Tom: So the shop owner used his position to influence a decision. That didn’t determine Bill would pick chocolate, let alone show that Doug determines the choices of all who enter.
        Albert: “But Sally came in and Doug gave her a free chocolate!”
        Tom: Which would be him using his authority as shop-keeper to offer her a chocolate – she still could have refused it, or bought a vanilla the normal way. Besides, Sally is his niece. She’s the exception, not the rule.
        Albert: But when Janelle wanted chocolate, Albert wouldn’t give it to her.
        Tom: Because she has an outstanding tab. These are all particular instances – they don’t prove your premise that Albert only offers one flavor and disallows the other to everyone who enters.
        Albert: You’re just biased against my argument!

        Now, Albert *could* be right – maybe Doug really does just not let people purchase the flavor he doesn’t want to purchase. It’s unlikely for an ice cream shop owner, but theoretically possible. The point is that none of Albert’s arguments proved or even supported that Doug does such a thing all the time, as they used fallacious reasoning. Albert incorrectly extrapolated from the cases of individuals entering the shop (much as Calvinists often over-extrapolate from Paul or the other prophets where God is shown working in an unusual manner as somehow representing the norm.)

      47. Love it! And guess what, in the real ice cream shop called life, there are endless flavors from which to choose. Or we can choose to not have ice cream at all and go get an organic, grass-fed burger.

        Look around at the diversity in people and their lives. Compare that to the sort of world John Calvin sought to establish, in which people were meticulously controlled, even as to how they could wear their hair, what songs or games they could play, what they could serve for dinner or what they could name their children. That is what the Calvinist worldview produces – tyranny and control.

        Freedom and diversity is what a scriptural worldview produces. When I escaped my Calvi-church I found myself laughing for joy at girls with short skirts or people with extensive tattoos and purple hair. I had for so long been in a repressive, legalistic environment that I had become afraid to associate with real people. Some have deep needs. Like the girls holding hands and smooching, or the guy in a dress. And I don’t know that I have what it takes to meet those needs.

        All I can offer is the good news of a loving God who desires their best interests – without a doubt. There isn’t a chance in the world that their sin issues, or mine, are the result of God not loving us, or creating us for destruction. That is not, absolutely NOT, the good news Jesus sent his disciples to the world to deliver. Instead, as with the angels I can proclaim, ‘I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people . . . Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.’

        I’m so thankful that God gave us good news to share, rather than Calvin’s horrible decree.

      48. Wait a minute TS00…

        You dont think that is “Good News”—- that before time God created 98% of humanity with the sole intention of having them be vessels of wrath so that his justice could have an object?

        You dont think that is “Good News”—- that before time God chose a tiny few people to irresistibly save from sins they irresistibly had no choice in committing?

        You dont think that is “Good News”—- that before time God decided to “sovereignly will” that man would sin but “commandingly will” that they not sin?

        You dont think that is “Good News”—- that before time God decided to tuck all these tiny truths neatly in 40 verses so that the “doctors of the law” could find and construct them and teach the young and restless?

        You just dont know Good News when you see it!

      49. Au contraire, monsieur, ne dis pas de bêtises! I love how the french sounds so much nicer than ‘Don’t give me that nonsense’.

      50. JR: “The point is that none of Albert’s arguments proved or even supported that Doug does such a thing all the time, as they used fallacious reasoning.”

        OK. My problem is with your “fallacious reasoning” conclusion. I don’t see Calvinism appealing to fallacious reasoning. So, we need to change your staring comment by Albert to accord with Calvinism:

        Albert: “The ice cream shop owner on the corner, Doug, determines the flavors of ice-cream he will carry and make available to everyone to purchase.”

        Then:
        Tom: “Why do you think that?”
        Albert: “Because he owns the ice cream shop, so he does what he wants.”

        Under Calvinism, God makes salvation available to everyone and anyone can freely choose salvation or reject it. The problem is that no one really wants what God is offering – they would never choose that ice cream flavor and and always choose another ice cream flavor. So, maybe your analogy should start:

        Albert: “The ice cream shop owner on the corner, Doug, only carries one flavor of ice cream but makes it available to anyone to purchase.”

        I think your analogy misrepresents Calvinism in order to generate fallacious reasoning. The problem may lie with my ability to support Calvinism accurately. I have been reading the Institutes over the last week, so hopefully, my arguments will improve in accuracy. So, don’t fault Calvinism over my inability to communicate what it says.

      51. rh writes:
        “Under Calvinism, God makes salvation available to everyone and anyone can freely choose salvation or reject it. The problem is that no one really wants what God is offering . . .”

        I haven’t the slightest doubt JR can deal with this one more effectively than I . . . but isn’t this overlooking a tiny, little foundational Calvinist doctrine called limited atonement, which asserts that Jesus did not die for all, but only for the elect, who irrevocably must and will ‘choose’ the salvation ordained, decreed and, frankly, forced upon them? Did somebody just remove the ‘L’ out of TULIP?

      52. It also removes the I, as those who accept under Calvinism do not freely choose to accept, but are irresistibly made/transformed so they will definitely accept wit no chacne or ability to nkt accept. It’s like they want the surface language of freedom so it sounds nice, but what they end up with is anything but freedom.

        It’s like claiming Doug the Ice cream shop owner only offers one flavor, but he must put it in a special container that the majority of people who enter can’t see. And claiming even if Doug tells them how good it is, it doesn’t help because everyone is deaf. And claiming those who enter can’t even reach a hand out to feel for it, because they are all incapable like dead corpses. For that matter, they can’t even read the sign advertising ice cream or enter the shop. Then claiming that Doug arbitrarily chooses a select few that he zaps with life and energy and the ability to see the ice cream. But even then he leaves nothing to chance! He hypnotize those who can now see just to make sure they definitely eat the ice cream. And after claiming all those absurdities, making the further claim that everyone is “free” to take or leave the ice cream.

        And when people ask for proof, like Tom asked Albert, just assert presuppositions as true, appeal to fallacious reasoning like generalization from the particular, cls oit of context verdes ate support or just appeal to God’s theoretical ability to do whatever He pleases as proof that He pleases to do things in a specific way.
        (I say theoretical not because God is not omnipotent, buy because we know there are things God cannot do like violate His character, renege on a promise, create a logical impossibility like a square circle or married bachelor, etc.)

      53. JR writes:
        “And after claiming all those absurdities, making the further claim that everyone is “free” to take or leave the ice cream.”

        And, if all that is not bad enough, Doug the Ice Cream shop owner publicly condemns all who ‘refused’ to accept his offer of ice cream. After hiding the existence of the ice cream, and deafening all but a select few from hearing of it Doug the Ice Cream shop owner, who also just happens to be the King of the land, mercilessly slaughters all who arrogantly ‘refused’ to partake of the king’s most generous offer.

      54. FOH:
        “Okay…then RH is promoting TUP then, not TULIP.”
        Won’t work. If you have Total Depravity without Unconditional Election and Irrisistible Grace then all would die in sin. If you had Total Depravity and Unconditional Election without Limited Atonement, then all would be saved, as per Universalism. It is all or nothing; one cannot be a 2, 3, or 4-pointer, however many would like to believe they are. At most one could be a 1-pointer, believing in OSAS without the determinism, as most Baptists once did.

      55. Jenai
        It’s like they want the surface language of freedom so it sounds nice, but what they end up with is anything but freedom.

        br,d
        EXACTLY!

        Calvinism embraces the philosophy of Theological Determinism – and freedom is defined in compatibilistic terms.

        Immanuel Kant – “Critique of Practical Reason”
        quote:
        “Compatibilism is a wretched subterfuge with which some persons still let themselves be put off, and so think they have solved lives problems with petty word-jugglery.”

        Dr. William James- “The Dilemma of Determinism”
        quote:
        “Compatibilism is a quagmire of evasion. The Compatibilists strategy relies upon stealing the name of freedom to mask their underlying determinism. They make a pretense of restoring the caged bird to liberty with one hand, while with the other they anxiously tie a string to its leg to make sure it can’t get beyond determinism’s grasp.”

      56. JR: “It’s like claiming Doug the Ice cream shop owner only offers one flavor, but he must put it in a special container that the majority of people who enter can’t see.”

        The claim of Calvinism is that the gospel goes to the whole world, as Jesus said, ““Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” Because of Adam’ sin, people are unrighteous and have no faith (a point you have not disputed so far). So, what is the result, “John was not the light, but came that he might bear witness of the light. There was the true light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man…this is the judgment, that the light is come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the light; for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the light, and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.” This is the condition of humanity without faith. They have depraved hearts and like Israel, “we see that they were not able to enter because of unbelief.”

        So, the claim of Calvinism is that “the Ice cream shop owner (God) only offers one flavor,(salvation) and it is there for all to purchase (Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest} but without faith, all who enter refuse and reject it.” Having given people the opportunity to be saved and seeing that all reject salvation, God gets to choose whom He will save – “He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world,” and “All that the Father gives Me shall come to Me.” God’s choices of whom He will save is unconditional, not based on anything in the person but solely “after the counsel of His will.” This is unconditional election.

        So, for whom does Christ die? Does Christ die for those whom God has not given Him and who will not be saved? Paul said, “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” here, “us” refers to the believers to whom Paul writes. Then, “by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain;” and “I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth.” God is saving His elect and to accomplish this, God had to send Christ to die for them.

        How does God save His elect? “…unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God…he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” So, “God who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” “by grace you have been saved through faith;…we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”

        Then, JR: “And claiming even if Doug tells them how good it is, it doesn’t help because everyone is deaf.”

        Being unrighteous and without faith, everyone is deaf to the gospel, “we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block, and to Gentiles foolishness.” ”

        Then, “And claiming those who enter can’t even reach a hand out to feel for it, because they are all incapable like dead corpses.”

        Yes. “you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.” and “…that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind, being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart; and they, having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality, for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness.”

        Then, “For that matter, they can’t even read the sign advertising ice cream or enter the shop.”

        No. If there is one thing the unsaved know – it is the gospel. That gospel is foolishness to them because they have no faith.

        Then, “Then claiming that Doug (God) arbitrarily chooses a select few that he zaps with life and energy and the ability to see the ice cream.’

        Not “arbitrarily” but “after the counsel of His will.” Theses God gives the new birth so that they can see the kingdom of God and then faith by which they enter the kingdom of God. If you want to say that God zaps them, that is fine. It gets the point across that it is God who saves.

        Then, “But even then he leaves nothing to chance! He hypnotize those who can now see just to make sure they definitely eat the ice cream. And after claiming all those absurdities, making the further claim that everyone is “free” to take or leave the ice cream.”

        What does Christ say, ““f you abide in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” true freedom is only found in Christ. Those who have been freed from slavery to sin are truly free.

        Then, “when people ask for proof, like Tom asked Albert, just assert presuppositions as true, appeal to fallacious reasoning like generalization from the particular, cls oit of context verdes ate support or just appeal to God’s theoretical ability to do whatever He pleases as proof that He pleases to do things in a specific way.”

        Absolutely not. Calvinists appeal to the Scriptures in everything. The worse that you can say is that the Calvinists have misunderstood those Scriptures.

      57. Rhutchin,

        Your comments are a blessing, brother. I truly mean that (no sarcasm implied).

        Your comments should be a reminder to all of us that anyone can take verses, even half verses, out of context, ignoring grammar, to get them to say what we want them to say.

        Your comments should also remind us that we can truly believe something, I mean really, really believe something with all our heart and, yet, still be wrong.

        Still, even with your ongoing ramblings and your rejection of other alternative explanations, you have never been hateful or mean-spirited (At least, not that I have noticed). That is a credit to you. I can’t say that about some who have posted here in the past.

        I believe that most of what you embrace is flawed. Incredibly so. But everyone here embraces some form of error. I know most here reject some of my beliefs. That just means I am outnumbered, but that doesn’t mean I am wrong.

        Again, your comments are a blessing. Other than the occasional drive-by, you are our resident authority on Calvinism. Without your contributions some on-lookers might think we are making this stuff up. And without your comments, most likely we would just be arguing amongst ourselves. And that would be boring.

      58. phillip writes, “Your comments should be a reminder to all of us that anyone can take verses, even half verses, out of context, ignoring grammar, to get them to say what we want them to say.”

        How about explaining how you think verses were misunderstood or misused. One verse at a time, so we can get closure on issues.

      59. Well, brother, I am still waiting for a biblical response to 2 Timothy 2:10…

        “Therefore I endure all things for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.”

        An answer that aligns with context, other scripture, and with a proper understanding of grammar. Up to this point, you have failed to do so.

      60. phillip writes, “Well, brother, I am still waiting for a biblical response to 2 Timothy 2:10…
        “Therefore I endure all things for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.”

        I am encouraged that you did not challenge the arguments I made to Jenai’s Doug, the Ice Cream Shop owner.

        If memory serves me, you tend to live in an OT world so you see any mention of the “elect” in the NT as a reference to Israel, while I live in a OT/NT world and see the elect as Jews and gentiles. I thought that we had pretty much defined our positions on 2 Timothy 2 and there wasn’t more to say..

      61. No, brother. I live in both the OT and NT too. If I remember correctly, you have taken 3 or 5 cracks at it, while completely ignoring the grammar, which has nothing to do with scripture, but just an elementary education. I do, however, believe we have established that the Jews/Israelites do fit the immediate context.

        2 Timothy 2:10 (NKJV)
        Remember that Jesus Christ, of the seed of David (from the tribe of Judah, a descendant of Jacob/Israel), was raised from the dead according to my gospel, for which I suffer trouble as an evildoer, even to the point of chains (the Jews/Israelites are the ones who have imprisoned him; they are the reason he is in chains); but the word of God is not chained. Therefore I endure all things for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.

        I am completely open to an alternative explanation. But it must align with all of scripture (both OT and NT) and fit the grammar. You cannot ignore the grammar. Or worse, just omit words (erase the words of God) like Piper does.

        Still waiting. Let’s have some closure.

      62. phillip writes, “I am completely open to an alternative explanation.”

        I have no problem with the comments you made in parenthesis – historical content is always good. The problem, if I remember correctly, was the identify of the “elect,” where you wanted this to be physical Israel (physical descendants of Israel) and everyone else recognizes Paul’s reference to be to be Jewish and gentile believers whether present or future.

      63. For any “new” on-lookers, here is a video (which I have posted before) of Calvinist John Piper discussing “the elect” from 2 Timothy 2:10.

        Please take special notice that Piper omits the word “also” each time he quotes the verse. Why? What’s the BIG deal? Because in doing so, it changes the meaning of Paul’s message. The word “also” introduces another category other than “the elect”, which, in this case, would have to be “the non-elect”.

        Below is just three examples in regards to the usage and meaning of “also”….

        Romans 3:29 (NKJV)….
        Or is He the God of the Jews (one category) only? Is He not also the God of the Gentiles (a completely different category)?

        Romans 4:9 (NKJV)….
        Does this blessedness then come upon the circumcised (one category) only, or upon the uncircumcised (another completely category) also?

        2 Timothy 2:11 (NKJV)….
        This is a faithful saying: For if we died (one event) with Him, We shall also live (a completely different event) with Him.

        With that in mind, we have….

        “Therefore I endure all things for the sake of the elect, that they (the elect; Jews/Israelites) also (with the non-elect; the Gentiles) may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.”

        Piper omits the word “also” or “too” each time he quotes this verse. So this had to be by deliberate design. You would think that anyone in the audience with their Bibles open would have noticed this.

        Guess not.

      64. Hi Philip I don’t see the link in your post & I’m interested in listening and sharing the missing; “also” with others. If it’s in this thread I’ can search for it, but I just haven’t been able to read them all.

      65. Blessings, Reggie.

        Piper’s omittance of the word “also” is found in the video I posted above (were you unable to view it?). The video is rather short; just under 4 minutes. In it, Piper references 2 Timothy 2:10 three times. Two times he is reading directly from the text (1:18 and 2:47 marks of the video). Omitting a word once might have been just a mistake, but two times? Three? That’s deliberate. And shameful.

        Even more shameful if his audience failed to notice it.

        Please let me know if you are unable to view the video above.

      66. Hi Phillip I think I see what I must have done wrong which is to not click on continue reading🤔 or something….. but after searching through comments I did indeed find it.. Wow he does leave “also” from the ESV two times. Piper alo leaves out “Therefore” at the beginning, & “the” before salvation. My version the 1984 NIV has “too” in place of also, but you are correct he leaves it out both times… and states; (“I will be victorious with my word being spoken”) WHAT ding ding ding!! who in his close circle isn’t calling him out on such omissions and self centered statements??? Even if at first I didn’t catch the omission, but his statement would have started me question. Thanks for sharing🙋‍♀️

      67. Reggie,

        I remember the first time I watched this, I asked myself “Which translation is he using?” However, when I did the research, all the major and most used translations had either “also” or “too”. KJV, NKJV, NET, NIV, NASB, and even the beloved ESV. All of them. But Piper omits it. Why? Because that one simple word gets in the way of his system. Someone, other than “the elect” may obtain salvation too. And for Calvinism, that’s a “No No”.

        Blessings.

      68. Thanks for pointing that out Phillip.

        Of course in general Piper is revered by the Calvinist crowd and on this site considered nearly flawless by our Calvinists posters.

        (Calvinist) MacArthur takes him to the wood shed cuz he is Pentecostal.

        Oh well…. they can’t be right on everything! ((As long as they agree on determinism: that God is the creator of all evil. That’s all that really matters to them).

      69. You are more than welcome, dear brother.

        I understand that Piper might be a kind, gentle, and passionate believer, but when you start to omit the spoken word of God, something should “go off” in your head.

        When in church service, I always have my Bible open. I know not all translations are verbatim, but the meaning should never change. Again, two times Piper appears to be reading directly from the text. Most likely he is using the ESV, and yet…

        “Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they ALSO may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.”

        Also? “Well, we can’t have that, can we!?! Let me see….”

        “Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.”

        “There” he says “Much better. And they will be none the wiser.” (insert eerie organ music)

      70. phillip writes, “With that in mind, we have….
        “Therefore I endure all things for the sake of the elect, that they (the elect; Jews/Israelites) also (with the non-elect; the Gentiles) may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.”

        O, we can have

        “Therefore I endure all things for the sake of the elect, that the elect (especially, those I have yet to reach) also (with me) may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.”

        Paul is explaining why he endures ordeals and sufferings, even as an evil doer. He is suffering at the hands of the Jews, Romans, idolaters, etc so that those to whom he preaches the gospel might also, together with him, obtain salvation.

        If we identify “elect” with the Jews as phillip suggests, we know from Romans 9, that it would apply not to the physical descendants of Abraham but only to the “children of promise.” However, Paul is not going to the Jews nor are they in view, as we see in his earlier instruction to Timothy, “the things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, these entrust to faithful men (primarily gentiles), who will be able to teach others also. Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus… Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead…according to my gospel,” When Paul says “my gospel” he means that the gospel is for the gentiles as well as the Jews.

      71. Rhutchin writes….

        “Therefore I endure all things for the sake of the elect, that the elect (especially, those I have yet to reach) also (with me) may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.”

        What did a say before? A blessing!

        Brothers/Sisters,

        I hope everyone is paying close attention here. This is a CLASSIC example of eisegesis. That is, reading into the text what you want it to say. You couldn’t have a better example, because not is he only ignoring the word of God, but he’s ignoring grammar as well. Rhutchin will not allow God, nor grammar, to get in the way of his system. He has to force into the text what he needs it to say to align with his beliefs.

        Any honest student of the word of God would find rhutchin’s explanation laughable. Just look to what extent he will go to to edit or add to the word of God.

        Shameful. This should be a lesson (and warning) to all of us.

        Look at Acts 28:20 (NKJV). This is the apostle Paul speaking, the same author of the books of Timothy…..

        “For this reason therefore I have called for you, to see you and speak with you, because for the hope of the elect I am bound with this chain.”

        Sounds simple enough, right? Only problem is, that is not exactly what the text says. In scripture Paul writes…..

        “For this reason therefore I have called for you, to see you and speak with you, because for the hope of Israel I am bound with this chain.”

        See how easily interchangeable “the elect” replaces “Israel”. And the meaning of the text doesn’t even change. Did Paul say it was “because for the hope of the body of Christ I am bound with this chain?” Nope. But that’s what some would have you to believe. Was it “because for the hope of the Gentiles I am bound with this chain?” Again, nope.

        Romans 9:3 (NKJV)…..
        For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh….

        Did Paul say that he was willing to be accursed from Christ for the body of Christ? Or Gentile believers? Nope and nope. O, but that’s what they want it to say.

        Romans 11:13-14 (NKJV)…
        For I speak to you Gentiles; inasmuch as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I magnify my ministry, if by any means I may provoke to jealousy those who are my flesh and save some of them.

        Was Paul magnifying his ministry to the Gentiles in the hope of saving some Gentiles? Nope.

        What did Paul say?

        Romans 10:1 (NKJV)….
        Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved.

        So what do we know? What do the scriptures tell us?

        1. It was Paul’s desire that Israel might be saved.

        2. Paul was willing to be accursed from Christ for his fellow Israelites.

        3. Paul magnified his ministry to Gentiles in the very hope of saving his fellow Israelites.

        4. It was for the hope of Israel that Paul wore his chains.

        What does that give us (if we allow God’s unfiltered word to speak)?

        2 Timothy 2:10 (NKJV)…
        Therefore I endure all things for the sake of the elect, that they (the elect) also (along with the non-elect) may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.

        Paul was enduring his suffering on account of, and because of, the elect. The elect are the very ones who had him imprisoned. The elect are the ones who locked him up. And it was for these same elect that Paul was willing to suffer in the hopes of them obtaining salvation. Even though Paul’s ministry was to the Gentiles, Paul’s heart was always for the people of Israel.

        So simple. At least, for some.

      72. phillip writes, “Look at Acts 28:20 (NKJV). This is the apostle Paul speaking, the same author of the books of Timothy…..”

        Acts 28
        17 …it happened that after three days he called together those who were the leading men of the Jews, and when they had come together, he began saying to them, “Brethren, though I had done nothing against our people, or the customs of our fathers, yet I was delivered prisoner from Jerusalem into the hands of the Romans….
        20 “For this reason therefore, I requested to see you and to speak with you, for I am wearing this chain for the sake of the hope of Israel.”
        21 And they said to him, “We have neither received letters from Judea concerning you, nor have any of the brethren come here and reported or spoken anything bad about you.
        22 “But we desire to hear from you what your views are; for concerning this sect, it is known to us that it is spoken against everywhere.”

        In context, we understand “the hope of Israel” to be Christ and to the Jews, the Messiah – it was appropriate for Paul to make this connection in speaking to the Jews. However, Paul did not use the term, “elect.” Then, we read, “when they had set a day for him, they came to him at his lodging in large numbers; and he was explaining to them by solemnly testifying about the kingdom of God, and trying to persuade them concerning Jesus, from both the Law of Moses and from the Prophets, from morning until evening.” Paul does not reder to the Jews as “the elect” but he does preach Christ to them as he did to all people everywhere.

        Then, “Romans 9:3 (NKJV)…..
        For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh….”

        No doubting Paul’s sincerity here for Israel. Then, we read, “…it is not that the word of God has taken no effect. For they are not all Israel who are of Israel, nor are they all children because they are the seed of Abraham; but, “In Isaac your seed shall be called. ” That is, those who are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God; but the children of the promise are counted as the seed.” Here, Paul identifies the children of God as the children of promise and these would be the elect – not all of Israel.

        Then, “Paul was enduring his suffering on account of, and because of, the elect. The elect are the very ones who had him imprisoned.”

        If phillip is to be consistent in his reasoning, then he would identify the elect as the children of promise within Israel. Thus, we would have, ”

        “Therefore I endure all things for the sake of the [children of promise], that they [the children of promise] also [with the gentiles] may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.”

        That would be a true statement, but I don’t see it fitting the immediate context of Paul’s instruction to Timothy.

      73. Rhutchin,

        Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

        However, you have (continually) failed to address the issue of the “also” or “too” in 2 Timothy 2:10 referring to a different category other than “the elect”. I have even provided biblical examples in an attempt to help you, but you insist “also” just means “the elect” by forcing in the concept of “over time”. This is just grammar. In the words of my Lord and Savior…

        “If I have told you earthly things (like grammar) and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things (like scripture)?”

        I could take 2 Timothy 2:10 to an unbelieving English major and they would understand it. But show it to a Calvinist (and some others) and they struggle. Why?

        Again, quoting you…

        “Therefore I endure all things for the sake of the elect, that the elect (especially, those I have yet to reach) also (with me) may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.”

        Seriously? Again, classic eisegesis. I find it extremely ironic that you reject most (if not all) alternate explanations here by our brothers and sisters in Christ regarding other portions of scripture, but then you dare put that out there as a plausible explanation. Its laughable. And if the shoe was on the other foot, you would be calling me out for doing the same. And justifiably so. Still, I admire your gumption for even attempting to address the issue. However, obviously, you are not going to allow grammar, nor God, to stand in the way of your precious Calvinism.

        Regarding 2 Timothy 2:10 we still don’t have closure, brother. But as long as you continue to ignore grammar, we never will.

      74. phillip writes, “However, you have (continually) failed to address the issue of the “also” or “too” in 2 Timothy 2:10 referring to a different category other than “the elect”.”

        “…the elect..” and “,..they…” are the same group. “…also…” points to something else or someone else (a different category to you), Paul wants the elect to obtain salvation also just like X category has.

        So, we get, “Therefore I endure all things for the sake of the elect, that they (those elect) also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory [even as X has].”

        You make it, “…also (along with the non-elect) may obtain the salvation…” However, the non-elect are not going to be saved – that is why they are non-elect.

        What grammar am I ignoring?

      75. Rhutchin writes….

        “You make it, ‘…also (along with the non-elect) may obtain the salvation…’ However, the non-elect are not going to be saved – that is why they are non-elect.”

        Thank you! And that is precisely what blinds you to the grammar!

        I’ll let brother Brian, who previously explained it to you, yet again. He’s words, not mine…..

        “2 Tim 2:10 – διὰ τοῦτο πάντα ὑπομένω διὰ τοὺς ἐκλεκτούς ἵνα καὶ αὐτοὶ σωτηρίας τύχωσιν τῆς ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ μετὰ δόξης αἰωνίου

        My literal translation – ‘on account of this, these [things] I am enduring on account of the elect [ones] in order that even to/for/with/by them salvation/deliverance they should obtain/experience, the [kind that is] in Jesus, with everlasting glory.’

        The και – meaning ‘even’, has to do with Paul’s introducing ANOTHER CATEGORY of people, besides the Gentiles to whom he is an apostle, and whom he is wanting to see saved. This other category he also wants to see saved and is willing to keep enduring all things so that might happen.

        That other category is ‘elect ones’, and so Phillip has context and other passages on his side pointing to ‘elect ones’ here meaning Jews who are not yet saved, but on account of whom (their forcing Paul’s arrest and trial by Rome) he is enduring his current imprisonment.”

        Brother Brian nailed it. I’m trying to help you understand this, brother, but your theology has blinded you to it. Paul can’t be saying what he is saying because you are convinced the non-elect can’t be saved.

        And, yet, here I am! Praise God!!

      76. Phillip,
        And what’s more in that verse…. Why does Paul have to “endure” anything so that others would receive salvation?

        I mean, that puts some of their salvation on his endurance right? Talk about synergism!!

        There is no monergism in that verse! Paul is the first and best Arminian (or non-Calvinist if that term bothers you).

        Paul persuades, reasons with, and convinces people, and is “all things to all men that he might win some…”

        Monergism.com should take all references to Paul off their site (they have can have Luther and Calvin and Mary-worshiping Augustine if they want)

      77. FOH,

        Agreed. In Calvin-land the salvation of the elect is a certainty. Paul could have gone along his merry way and it would have changed nothing.

        But Paul loved his fellow Israelites so much he was willing to be imprisoned by them, and for them.

        “Therefore I endure all things for the sake of my fellow Israelites (the elect), that they also (along with the non-elect; the Gentiles) may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.”

        Though it aligns itself perfectly with scripture and grammar, rhutchin can’t allow it.

        You know me, brother. “Arminian” does rub me a bit. I see them as 2 point Calvinists (both adhere to TD/TI and some form of Irresistible Grace). Arminianism is just a softer, user-friendly, version of Calvinism. But, another subject.

        Still, bless his heart, rhutchin struggles with both grammar and scripture. “Well, it can’t mean that, because my system won’t allow it.”

        Well, maybe you need to re-evaluate your system. I mean, just where does your loyalty lie? With God? Or with your beliefs?

        God bless you, brother.

      78. phillip uses Brians analysis, “My literal translation – ‘on account of this, these [things] I am enduring on account of the elect [ones] in order that even to/for/with/by them salvation/deliverance they should obtain/experience, the [kind that is] in Jesus, with everlasting glory.’

        Brian has “elect ones” and “them/they” being two categories of people. As Brian says, “‘even’, has to do with Paul’s introducing ANOTHER CATEGORY of people, besides the Gentiles to whom he is an apostle,” Thus, Brian reads the verse:

        ‘I endure all things for the sake of the [gentiles], that [the Jews] also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.”

        But then, Brian writes, “That other category is ‘elect ones’, and so Phillip has context and other passages on his side pointing to ‘elect ones’ here meaning Jews who are not yet saved,..” So, this gives us:

        “I endure all things for the sake of the [unsaved Jews], that [the gentiles] also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.”

        Then, Brian says, “This other category he also wants to see saved and is willing to keep enduring all things so that might happen.” This would give us the reading:

        “I endure all things on account of the [unsaved Jews], for the sake of [the gentiles] that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.”

        I think this is a good translation as it seems to fit the context.

        You, however, have it:

        ‘I endure all things for the sake of the [Jews], that [the gentiles] also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.”

        Here, your positioning of “for the sake of” seems to be off. If you translate, “even/also” to suggest, “fort the sake of” giving us Brian’s apparent translation – “I endure all things on account of the [unsaved Jews], for the sake of [the gentiles] that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.” – I think we have something on which we can agree.

        Maybe, Brian can chime in and gives us his rendition of the verse.

      79. Rhutchin writes…

        “You, however, have it: ‘I endure all things for the sake of the [Jews], that [the gentiles] also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.’”

        Not exactly. You need to go back and re-read my comments and Brian’s as well.

        2 Timothy 2:10 (NKJV)….
        Therefore I endure all things for the sake of the elect (his fellow Israelites), that they (the elect; his fellow Israelites) also (along with the non-elect; the Gentiles to which he is an apostle) may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.

        “The elect” is a direct reference to the people of Israel. The “also” or “too” introduces another category of people, who are distinguishable from “the elect”. Given there can only be two groups, that other category would have to be the non-elect, in this case, the Gentiles (or non-Israelites).

        Salvation may be obtained by both Israelites (the elect) and Gentiles (the non-elect). Now here comes the part that is only going to make matters worse for you. Salvation is obtainable by both “the elect” (or Israelites) and the “non-elect” (or non-Israelites), because Christ died for all. Both Jew and Gentile. Both elect and non-elect.

      80. phillip writes, ‘Salvation may be obtained by both Israelites (the elect) and Gentiles (the non-elect). Now here comes the part that is only going to make matters worse for you.”

        I still like this translation:

        “I endure all things on account of the [unsaved Jews/his fellow Israelites], for the sake of [the gentiles] that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.”

        I think you are asking too much of “τηα καὶ αὐτοὶ” in your translation. But, maybe Brian can set it right.

      81. Rhutchin writes…. “I still like this translation:

        ‘I endure all things on account of the [unsaved Jews/his fellow Israelites], for the sake of [the gentiles] that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.’”

        Your “translation” is a mess. You really need to work on your grammar, brother.

        Rhutchin writes… “But, maybe Brian can set it right.”

        He already did when he wrote… “…so Phillip has context and other passages on his side pointing to ‘elect ones’ here meaning Jews who are not yet saved, but on account of whom (their forcing Paul’s arrest and trial by Rome) he is enduring his current imprisonment.”

        He confirmed I had/have both context and grammar correct, with additional scripture support. Everything you would expect from a sound exegetical analysis.

      82. phillip writes, “He already did when he wrote… “…so Phillip has context and other passages on his side pointing to ‘elect ones’ here meaning Jews who are not yet saved, but on account of whom (their forcing Paul’s arrest and trial by Rome) he is enduring his current imprisonment.””

        We can both agree to that. That gives us the translation of the first part of the verse as, “Therefore I endure all things on account of whom (the unsaved Jews forcing Paul’s arrest and trial by Rome) he is enduring his current imprisonment….”

        I don’t think that is at issue, Is it?

        Then, given that “also” denotes a different category – gentiles – we get the last part of the verse, “…that [the gentiles] also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.”

        As we seem to be agreeing with Brain on this translation, what is your issue??

        Brian’s translation seems fine to me as it fits the immediate context.

      83. Rhutchin asks… “I don’t think that is at issue, Is it?”

        It has been “one” issue up to now, that is, if you are now willing to concede that the elect are the ones imprisoning him. The elect are the ones locking him up in the hopes of having him killed. The elect are the ones who want him dead.

        Rhutchin then asks… “As we seem to be agreeing with Brain on this translation, what is your issue??”

        The issue is (unless I am mistaken) you fail to see that the Gentiles are not among “the elect”. No doubt, in your mind, this verse means…

        “Therefore I endure all things for the sake of the elect Jews, that they (the elect Jews) also (with the elect Gentiles) may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.”

        But that is NOT a valid translation. Whoever the “also” Paul is referring to, they are NOT part of “the elect”. For me, call me crazy, but that would only leave “the non-elect” (remember: another category). And according to Paul, they, the non-elect, can also obtain salvation.

        Also, as Brother Brian just reminded me, the salvation of “the elect” in this verse is no guarantee. Paul feels a high probably that the elect won’t obtain salvation, but he is willing to endure his suffering, at their very hands, in the hopes that they might. Again, this is supported by Romans 11:14 (NKJV)….

        “…if by any means I may provoke to jealousy those who are my flesh (his fellow Israelites) and save some of them.”

        I’m truly trying to help you, brother. But if you want this verse to make any sense at all, you are going to have to jettison Calvinism (though painful as it may be). Or, you can just omit “also” like Piper did. That might be easier. It was for him.

      84. phillip writes, “if you are now willing to concede that the elect are the ones imprisoning him.”

        If by elect, you mean physical Israel. then reading it as “Therefore I endure all things on account of the Jews…”

        Then, “The issue is (unless I am mistaken) you fail to see that the Gentiles are not among “the elect”. No doubt, in your mind, this verse means…”

        I haven’t seen anything preventing that reading. We can read this as, “”Therefore I endure all things on account of God’s elect…”

      85. Rhutchin writes….“I haven’t seen anything preventing that reading.”

        Of course you haven’t, brother.

        Let’s try the ESV (okay?), that’s the Calvinist’s translation of choice.

        2 Timothy 2:10 (ESV)….
        Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they ALSO may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.

        1. “The elect” are the physical descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Paul’s fellow countrymen according to the flesh.

        2. Paul is enduring his suffering because of, and at the hands of, “the elect” or “God’s chosen ones”. It is “the elect” or “God’s chosen ones” who have imprisoned him and want him put to death.

        3. Paul is willing to endure this suffering by the hands of “the elect” or “God’s chosen ones” so that they also may obtain the salvation in Christ Jesus. There is a high probability they won’t, which is what causes Paul so much anguish (Romans 9:1-3). The salvation of “the elect” or “God’s chosen ones” is not a guarantee. Some of, or worse, perhaps most, of “the elect” will be lost. And Paul knows it!

        4. The “also” or “too” suggests there is another category of people who are not part of “the elect” or “God’s chosen ones”. This would have to be the Gentiles (the non-elect/non-Israelites) to whom he was sent. These, too, may (or may not) obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus.

        I have explained this to the point that even a child could understand it. Brother Brian has been gracious enough to chime in and say pretty much the same thing, though in less words. I’m pretty sure most on-lookers “get it”, though most have probably never thought of it in this way.

        You’re naturally resistant to it, because it refutes so much of what you believe. In the words of Yoda…. “You must unlearn what you have learned”.

        I have personally “Been there. Done that.” And I know its not easy, brother.

      86. The author of “Examining Calvinism” writes this about 2nd Timothy 2:10

        You can see how John Calvin infers that “the church” is the intended reference,[to Paul’s use of the term elect] and by that reference, the Calvinistically elect church. However, the problem is that this would have Paul contrasting one group with the same group, which wouldn’t make sense.

        Question:
        Can the Calvinist interpretation adequately explain the phrase, “they also”?

        Answer:
        Obviously I don’t think that it can. Otherwise, it would be like saying, “For this reason I endure all things for the sake of the Calvinistically elect, so that they too may obtain the salvation which the Calvinistically elect receive.”

        In other words, it makes no sense to contrast one group with the same group. The phrase, “they also,” can only make sense if it is contrasting differing groups.

        Laurence Vance writes: “To believe that Paul strove (Rom. 15:20) and labored in the Gospel (Phil. 4:3), enduring (2 Tim. 2:10) beatings, stoning, imprisonments, shipwreck, perils, pain, hunger and cold (2 Cor. 11:23-27) for the sake of the ‘elect’ who would be saved anyway is the most preposterous excuse ever offered in support of Unconditional Election.” (The Other Side of Calvinism, p.369)

        Additionally – if Paul endured all of these things for those who would be saved anyway, due to an irresistible, unavoidable, impossible-to-miss grace, simply because Paul might possibly have assumed it as “the predestined means,” [also] infers quite a bit upon Paul.

        To suppose that sufferings would be “the predestined means,” just doesn’t seem to be an adequate motivation.

        A more logical, sensible and plausible motivation is the idea that effort is something that aims towards that which *CAN* be, rather than something that WILL REGARDLESS INEVITABLY be.

        I believe that this references to the Jews. Why would Paul add the description of Jesus being a “descendant of David”? David was a Jew. Who caused Paul such “hardship”? It was the Jews. Who chased him down from city to city, and had him stoned and placed in prison and treated as a “criminal”?

        It was the Jews.

      87. BrD,

        Thank you, brother, for sharing this.

        Calvin isn’t the only one who reads “the church” into 2 Timothy 2:10, most non-Calvinists do too.

        In the video with Piper, he states, regarding the elect, that “Paul doesn’t have a clue who they are”. Wrong. Paul knows exactly who the elect are. That entire 4 minute video is based on a false premise. Its garbage and should be treated as such.

        Now from your post….

        “In other words, it makes no sense to contrast one group with the same group. The phrase, ‘they also’, can only make sense if it is contrasting differing groups.”

        Gee. Sounds familiar.

        Then….

        “I believe that this references to the Jews. Why would Paul add the description of Jesus being a ‘descendant of David’? David was a Jew. Who caused Paul such ‘hardship’? It was the Jews. Who chased him down from city to city, and had him stoned and placed in prison and treated as a ‘criminal’? It was the Jews.”

        Makes sense to me. Of course there is other scriptural support as well.

        Acts 28:20 (NKJV)….
        For this reason therefore I have called for you, to see you and speak with you, because for the hope of Israel I am bound with this chain.”

        Context. Grammar. Other scriptural support. Everything you would expect from a sound exegetical analysis.

        And, yet, most still want to pull a Piper…

        “Therefore I endure all things for the sake of the elect, that they **poof** may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.”

      88. I agree – I think Piper is just doing what all Calvinists are taught to do – makes all kinds of blind speculations – in order to maintain the sacred science – and make it APPEAR to align with scripture. And it always leads them into a ditch of self-contradictions and IRRATIONAL assertions.

      89. BrD,

        Just curious, brother, and I don’t mean to put you in the line of fire. With everything you have read, do you think I am way off base?

      90. I think that makes the most sense of that passage. Although Paul in other places calls Jews with different references. “my brethren after the flesh”, or “the circumcision” etc.

      91. Thanks, brother. I agree.

        Clearly, Jesus is speaking about the Jews when He uses the phrase “the elect” in Matthew 24.

        So, if “the elect” refers to the Jews in 2 Timothy 2:10, then the other group (not an individual; we are contrasting different groups) other than “they also” would point to the “non-elect”, or the non-Jew, in this context, the Gentiles.

        This is a hard teaching for some because they are convinced that every time they see the phrase “the elect” they are sure it refers to believers, or those who are saved. Here, in 2 Timothy 2:10 we see Paul calling a group of people “the elect” and, yet, in Paul’s mind (and language) they are still lost.

      92. I think we will find messianic and rabbinical scholars who would agree with this interpretation.

        I note that Paul uses the same root-word (ἐκλεκτ) ῶν in 1 Timothy 5:21 – where he refers to “elect” angels.

        I believe the word בְחִיר֗וֹ in Ps.106:23 – in regard to Moses – is translated as “Yahweh’s Chosen One” or “elected” one.

        And it seems like Paul’s choice of words when he references Israel – he tends to use specific adjectives to describe them in the context of his different thoughts concerning them. There is a historic sense in which Israel was God’s chosen people – set apart from the rest of the nations to be a nation of kings and priests (exodus 19:6) – and that could be conceived as a form of “election”.

        King Saul was chosen for a specific purpose as was David. So there is a form of “chosen” status that is consistent in God’s dealing with Israel. And since Paul is willing to call Angels “elect” – which would probably be a reference to their status of being chosen for specific purposes – then its quite reasonable to allow for Paul to use the same root word in regard to the Jewish people.

        This would be an excellent question to ask Dr. Michael Brown

      93. BrD,

        I found the below on that website you pointed out (Examining Calvinism). Again, thanks for sharing!

        “The phrase ‘they also’ ruins this interpretation. If you take out ‘they also’, the Calvinist interpretation becomes more plausible, but who would want to subtract from Scripture? The text would look like this: ‘For this reason I endure all things for the sake of those who are chosen, so that they…may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus and with it eternal glory.’ That would eliminate the contrast, and would make the calvinistically elect into the sole object.”

        But who would want to subtract from Scripture? John Piper!

        Then, same website…

        Question: Who are the “chosen” and what is the implication of “they also”?

        Answer: I believe that this references to the Jews. Why would Paul add the description of Jesus being a “descendant of David”? David was a Jew. Who caused Paul such “hardship”? It was the Jews. Who chased him down from city to city, and had him stoned and placed in prison and treated as a “criminal”? It was the Jews. Yet, despite being an apostle to the Gentiles, Paul had a zealous passion for reaching the Jews. (Romans 9:1-5, 10:1-3, 11:12-14) That explains the expression, “they also.” It must be pointed out that Paul sometimes references the Jews by other expressions. Galatians 2: 7-9 states: “But on the contrary, seeing that I had been entrusted with the gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been to the circumcised (for He who effectually worked for Peter in his apostleship to the circumcised effectually worked for me also to the Gentiles), and recognizing the grace that had been given to me, James and Cephas and John, who were reputed to be pillars, gave to me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, so that we might go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised.” Another example is Romans 15:8: “For I say that Christ has become a servant to the circumcision on behalf of the truth of God to confirm the promises given to the fathers, and for the Gentiles to glorify God for His mercy.” It’s clear that Paul is making an indirect reference to the Jews. That seems to be the case at 2nd Timothy 2:10 as well, given all of the aforementioned factors. Moreover, I believe that the Jews are specifically called “elect” by Jesus, insomuch that the Jews have an election in Abraham. At Matthew 24:22-31, Jesus specifically discusses what I believe must exclusively be the Jews.
        ………………..

        Agreed. If you believe “the church” is the elect then you have the body of Christ going thru the tribulation period. There are those, like myself, who believe the church will be in heaven during the tribulation period. If so, then who are “the elect” in Matthew 24:22-31? The language points to the Jews.

      94. Piper is a typical Calvinist in how he AUTO-MAGICALLY superimposes the irrational world of Calvinism into everything.
        I think Mr. Piper is probably one of the most popular voices of Calvinist double-speak in their guild.

      95. phillip writes, “2. Paul is enduring his suffering because of, and at the hands of, “the elect” or “God’s chosen ones”. It is “the elect” or “God’s chosen ones” who have imprisoned him and want him put to death.”

        Paul is being harassed by the Jewish leaders and he endures this on account of the elect, So the ESV, “Therefore I endure everything [done to me by the Jews] for the sake of the elect [of God]…,” I think you have a point in the treatment of “dia” by the translators. It seems that the verse could be translated as “Therefore I endure everything on account of the elect [physical] Israel,…” It doesn’t make sense to me, because earlier Paul says he is suffering because of the gospel making those whom God is saving his concern.

        Then, “3. Paul is willing to endure this suffering by the hands of “the elect” or “God’s chosen ones” so that they also may obtain the salvation in Christ Jesus.”

        So, Paul endures suffering at the hands of the Jews so that the remnant can be saved. That’s fine.

        Then, “4. The “also” or “too” suggests there is another category of people who are not part of “the elect” or “God’s chosen ones”.

        “also” identifies with “they” and the antecedent of “they” is the previous “elect.” If you make the elect to be the physical nation of Israel, you cannot add the gentiles into “they.” The grammar does not allow it. You have Paul writing that he endures suffering at the hands of the Jews in order that the remnant would be saved – the remnany uniquely identifies with the “children of promise” in Romans 9, and does not include gentiles.

        Then, “I have explained this to the point that even a child could understand it. ”

        While taking a few liberties with the text (principally your treatment of “they” and its antecedent). However, you still need to explain why Paul would be talking about physical Israel in the context of his instructions to Timothy. You have done half the job – the half that allows your personal views of v10.

      96. Rhutchin writes….

        “the ‘also’ identifies with ‘they’ and the antecedent of ‘they’ is the previous “elect.” If you make the elect to be the physical nation of Israel, you cannot add the gentiles into ‘they’. The grammar does not allow it.”

        You’re a mess, brother.

        “They” is a reference back to “the elect”, which is the people of Israel. The “also” is added to show someone other than “they” or “the elect” can obtain salvation. In context, that would have to be the “non-elect”, in this case the non-Israelites, or Gentiles. Thus…

        Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that the elect also (along with the non-elect) may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.

        Or….

        Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the Jews, that the Jews also (along with the Gentiles) may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.

        The “also” changes everything, which is why Piper omits it (to his shame). This is how he reads it….

        “Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they (the elect) may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.”

        That’s what you want it to say. But Paul (by inspiration) added “also” for a reason. Even though Paul is the apostle to the Gentiles, Paul is willing to suffer for the sake of the Jews (the elect), and by their hand, in hopes that they (the elect) will obtain salvation as well, along with the Gentiles.

        Why do I get the impression that everyone else “gets it”, but you don’t.

      97. phillip writes, ““They” is a reference back to “the elect”, which is the people of Israel. The “also” is added to show someone other than “they” or “the elect” can obtain salvation. In context, that would have to be the “non-elect”, in this case the non-Israelites, or Gentiles. Thus…

        Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that the elect also (along with the non-elect) may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.”

        That’s a little hard to take.”…also..” modifies “…they…” – “…that the elect also…” Inserting “(along with the non-elect)” is not called for by any stretch of the imagination. That’s you trying to make the verse say something it does not.

        At least, we seem to have identified our positions. I don’t see anything else to be gained.

      98. Rhutchin writes… “That’s a little hard to take.’…also..’ modifies ‘…they…’ – ‘…that the elect also…’ Inserting ‘(along with the non-elect)’ is not called for by any stretch of the imagination. That’s you trying to make the verse say something it does not.”

        Not at all. Since the text clearly points “they” to “the elect” and since “also” implies another category in direct contrast to “the elect”, the only viable option would have to be the non-elect. Very simple to those who are willing to grasp it.

        Maybe this will help you…

        “Therefore I endure all this for the sake of rhutchin, that he also may obtain a better understanding of this scripture.”

        You said “At least, we seem to have identified our positions. I don’t see anything else to be gained.”

        Perhaps. However, “my” position fits both the context and the grammar, plus with additional scriptural support. Even Brian acknowledges this. “Your” position fails on every front.

      99. phillip writes, “Maybe this will help you…
        “Therefore I endure all this for the sake of rhutchin, that he also may obtain a better understanding of this scripture.”

        To what would “also” refer in the above? Me?

      100. No, brother. “Also” would refer to those not named “rhutchin”, but who might be reading along.

        Thanks for asking.

      101. Rhutchin.

        My bad. I did that rather quickly.

        The “also” applies to you. However, the “also” suggests someone other than “rhutchin” might obtain a better understanding of this scripture as well.

        You’re the reason I am enduring all of this, and its for your benefit, but other “on-lookers” can benefit from it as well.

      102. Phillip writes:
        ““Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they (the elect) may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.”

        That’s what you want it to say. But Paul (by inspiration) added “also” for a reason. Even though Paul is the apostle to the Gentiles, Paul is willing to suffer for the sake of the Jews (the elect), and by their hand, in hopes that they (the elect) will obtain salvation as well, along with the Gentiles.

        Why do I get the impression that everyone else “gets it”, but you don’t.”

        Add me to the ‘don’t get it’ list. 😉

        I do not see how you justify ignoring the plain, most natural reading of the verse. It is no different from someone saying, ‘Therefore I paid the big bucks for the kids’ tickets, so that they also may go to the playoff game.’ One could mean the exact same thing with or without the explicit use of the word ‘also’, but the implication of the ‘also’ is that the speaker, and potentially unnamed others were already going to the game, and it was decided that it was worth the extra money so that the kids could also go to the game. You are simply reading anything else into the passage due to presupposition. I find this to be the case whenever one attempts to assert that ‘the elect’ must mean ‘the Jews’, when in every case it could just as easily, or more easily, refer to ‘all who will ever believe’.

        Note, I am not saying you MUST be wrong, but you easily might be, as is so often true of interpretations made by adding or insisting on a meaning that is not made clear in the passage.

        Perhaps you might rest your case on this issue, as your opinion has been made clear, but is not by any means universally held. I do not begrudge you the right to your own personal opinions, but simply challenge the repeated claims that ‘all get it’, when, frankly, ‘all’ don’t necessarily believe what you believe. No offense intended.

      103. TS00,

        Perhaps I should clarify what I meant by “why do I get the impression that everyone else ‘gets it’, but you don’t.”

        I never said that everyone “agrees” with me (I know better), but rather everyone else might “get” what I am attempting to explain. My explanation to rhutchin appears to come across as not being understandable (he’s baffled by the explanation). Where I believe everyone else clearly understands what I am saying, regardless if they accept it or not.

        For example, I believe you “get” what I am saying, but you just don’t agree with me. I’m fine with that.

      104. Thanks for that explanation. And for not taking offense. 😉 Yes, I’m afraid it appears at times that good ol’ rhutchin pretends to not ‘get’ what one is saying, for reasons of his own. But we love him anyway. You are correct that I understand your view, and even grant that it might be possible, but do not find it to be the most logical or scripturally consistent interpretation.

      105. No worries, brother. I’m thicker skinned than that.

        If I was failing to get my point across (even with rhutchin), then that’s on me. Once everyone understands what I am saying, I’m clean. I am starting to think Rhutchin just wants me to live in the tub 😉

      106. I learned a long time ago that RH is not here to be open-minded or truth-seeking. I pay close attention to behavior patterns. Calvinist language is not a truth-telling language – its a cosmetic language designed to air-brush an acceptable image of Calvinism. So it makes sense that a Calvinist would dedicate himself to that cause.

      107. Just briefly,

        Salvation is an “already and not yet” concept in scripture. We have salvation from the first moment of faith when we die to sin and God raises us to new life; we hold salvation as we continue to believe; we get salvation in future at the judgement when we are given new spiritual bodies.

        “Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they too may hit upon the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.” II Tim 2:10 (There is no ‘and with it’ – just with.

        ‘Obtain’ here is simply ‘hit the mark,’ the antonym/opposite of hemartia (sin/to miss the mark.) So it is quite possible (especially in light of the phrase “eternal life” and the next few verses which mention reigning with Christ in conjunction with enduring that Paul is speaking of our future eternal life. Encouragement of the saints would seem to fit the context well.

        There are some potential parallel scriptures:

        “If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer.” II Cor 1:6

        The Corinthian church are already believers. So ‘salvation’ here would be in either/both the present and future sense a believer has salvation.

        “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” II Cor 4:17

        I think there are some others as well.

        Tit 1:1-2 also shows the elect waiting for eternal life – back to that ‘already and not yet’ factor.

        “Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ to further the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness— in the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time, and which now at his appointed season he has brought to light through the preaching entrusted to me by the command of God our Savior…”

        So just a possibility here, but Paul could easily be talking of the the faithful in Christ Jesus who are chosen to be made holy and who are waiting for new spiritual bodies at the judgement (eternal life) vs. talking about people who have yet to put faith in Christ.

      108. I think it is clear from the text that Paul is worried about “the elect’s” salvation, and not just some other future spiritual blessing. Those other spiritual blessings will happen to those who are in Christ Jesus, so the “may” is not an option.

        Though another author, we read…

        1 John 5:13 (NKJV)…
        These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have (present tense) eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.

        While it is true that believers await their future glorification, I think its clear in 2 Timothy 2:10 that Paul’s concern is for the salvation of the elect, and not just some additional spiritual benefit for them. The “also” in 2 Timothy 2:10 suggests another category of people in direct contrast to “the elect”, rather than “also” referring to another spiritual benefit for “the elect” other than salvation itself.

        Something to think about.

      109. Concern about future salvation is still concern about salvation, not merely lesser spiritual blessings. Salvation, for the believer, is past, present, and future. The final blessings of salvation, such as being resurrected in a new spiritual body, are not granted until judgement day, even though the believer has present assurance that those promises will be fulfilled. Right now we have the promise of eternal glory, not the actuality, even though scripture in both Hebrew and Greek often idiomatically treats the promises of God as present realities. None of us are sinless, or walking around with resurrected bodies, or literally dwelling in the New Jerusalem, or have attended the wedding feast of the lamb, etc. We “have” those things now because they are promised to believers, but we will see them fulfilled in the future.

        In II Cor 1 we see Paul being afflicted “for the comfort and salvation” of the Corinthian church, who are already believers. In Eph 1 we see Paul in prison for the sake of the Gentiles of the Ephesian church, also presumably believers. In II Cor 4:17 we see again Paul’s suffering working out an “eternal weight of glory” in Paul and other Christians who suffer, even though he is already saved.

        This fits with the context, considering Paul’s very next line that “if we died (aorist) with him, we will also live with him (future active indicative.)” And “if we endure, we will reign with him” contrasted with the opposite response to affliction, “denying/disowning” Christ. This strongly implies, if not mandates, that the elect under discussion are believers, and he is hoping that his example will help them stand fast in times of affliction so they will continue to the end and be saved. It also fits with Paul’s earlier analogy that “If anyone competes as an athlete, he does not win the prize unless he competes according to the rules.”

        See also I Pet 1:1-9, where Peter addresses the exiles as part of God’s elect, and also speaks of their inheritance kept in heaven for them until the “coming of salvation which is ready to be revealed in the last time” and explains that their suffering and trials are there to test/prove the genuineness of their faith, and the end result of faith is the salvation of their souls. Different author, but same concept.

        Even further support for this is found back in the context, in II Tim 2:18, where Paul talks about false teachers who have departed from the truth. The specific teaching, destroying the faith of some, was their claim that the Resurrection had already taken place! Paul then would have great cause to worry and want to reassure the church, by his own suffering if needed, that the hope of the Resurrection and eternal glory was still ahead of them.

        And again the “obtain” of II Tim 2:10 (ugchanó) is “to hit the mark” – the word is the opposite of sin, “to miss the mark.” -.
        That is, “that they may also hit upon the mark of salvation in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.” https://biblehub.com/greek/5177.htm

        Perhaps theoretically that could refer to getting faith so as to be saved, but that seems a strained way to take it and alien to the context. More likely it is used in the sense Jesus employs the term:

        “But those who are considered worthy of *attaining* the age to come and in the resurrection from the dead will neither marry nor be given in marriage” Luke 10:35

        Or the author of Hebrews: “Women received back their dead, raised to life again. There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might *attain* an even better resurrection.” Heb 11:35

        And considering the original manuscripts did not have verse breaks or punctuation, it’s worth considering I Tim 2:14 and beyond as well. While some translations throw in a “the people of God’ – there is no such thing in the Greek. It’s simply “These things remind [them,] solemnly charging [them] before God…” with the ‘them’ implied by the grammar in reference back to a plural group Paul has spoken of before. But what group? He’s referred to Timothy (audience of letter,) himself, reliable people, the elect, and to “we” which seems to be the inclusive of Paul and believers. Timothy is supposed to remind this group, so while he could be a part of the group referenced, it wouldn’t make grammatical sense to think Timothy needs to remind “we.” But “elect” is the next closest term and fits well as a plural group which Timothy can address:

        “These things remind [the elect,] solemnly charging [the elect] in the sight of God….

        As for Paul’s “also” it makes perfect sense grammatically. He suffers all the afflictions he has and will undergo for the sake of the elect, that they also [as well as himself] will attain salvation in Christ Jesus with eternal glory [at the Resurrection of the dead.] The other ‘category’ is not the ‘non-elect,’ but simply Paul himself.

        It would be like if I said, “I plan to buy and give out tickets and give rides to my friends so they also can go to Prom.” No one would think the ‘also’ implies I will be buying tickets for my enemies. Rather, the “also” just implies that I myself will be getting a ticket and driving to Prom.

      110. Jenai,

        Thanks for your thoughtful and well laid out reply.

        The below are not my words, but another brother in Christ (regarding 2 Timothy 2:10)….

        “I believe that this references to the Jews. Why would Paul add the description of Jesus being a ‘descendant of David’? David was a Jew. Who caused Paul such ‘hardship’? It was the Jews. Who chased him down from city to city, and had him stoned and placed in prison and treated as a ‘criminal’? It was the Jews. Yet, despite being an apostle to the Gentiles, Paul had a zealous passion for reaching the Jews. (Romans 9:1-5, 10:1-3, 11:12-14) That explains the expression, ‘they also’. It must be pointed out that Paul sometimes references the Jews by other expressions. Galatians 2: 7-9 states: ‘But on the contrary, seeing that I had been entrusted with the gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been to the circumcised (for He who effectually worked for Peter in his apostleship to the circumcised effectually worked for me also to the Gentiles), and recognizing the grace that had been given to me, James and Cephas and John, who were reputed to be pillars, gave to me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, so that we might go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised.’ Another example is Romans 15:8: ‘For I say that Christ has become a servant to the circumcision on behalf of the truth of God to confirm the promises given to the fathers, and for the Gentiles to glorify God for His mercy.’ It’s clear that Paul is making an indirect reference to the Jews. That seems to be the case at 2 Timothy 2:10 as well, given all of the aforementioned factors. Moreover, I believe that the Jews are specifically called ‘elect’ by Jesus, insomuch that the Jews have an election in Abraham. At Matthew 24:22-31, Jesus specifically discusses what I believe must exclusively be the Jews. Yet, despite all of their persecutions against him, Paul’s desire was that they ‘may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus.’ (2nd Timothy 2:10) This is because Paul still dearly loved his Jewish brothers, so much so, that he made this statement: ‘My heart is filled with bitter sorrow and unending grief for my people, my Jewish brothers and sisters. I would be willing to be forever cursed – cut off from Christ! – if that would save them.’ (Romans 9:2-4, NLT) Paul was willing to be forever cursed, if that would satisfy God’s justice and save his Jewish brothers. That shows just how much Paul truly loved his Jewish brothers who knew not what they were doing. Paul’s endurance of his mischievous Jewish brothers stems from his sincere love for them, and his enduring hope that they may also come to know Christ as Savior. That’s what Paul was referring to at 2nd Timothy 2:8-10.”

        I agree. The only thing I would like to add that my brother above left out is the following….

        Acts 28:17-20 (NKJV)….
        And it came to pass after three days that Paul called the leaders of the Jews together. So when they had come together, he said to them: “Men and brethren, though I have done nothing against our people or the customs of our fathers, yet I was delivered as a prisoner from Jerusalem into the hands of the Romans, who, when they had examined me, wanted to let me go, because there was no cause for putting me to death. But when the Jews spoke against it, I was compelled to appeal to Caesar, not that I had anything of which to accuse my nation. For this reason therefore I have called for you, to see you and speak with you, because FOR THE HOPE OF ISRAEL I am bound with this chain.”

      111. phillip is another message wrote, “So, if “the elect” refers to the Jews in 2 Timothy 2:10, then the other group (not an individual; we are contrasting different groups) other than “they also” would point to the “non-elect”, or the non-Jew, in this context, the Gentiles.

        Here, he cites another individual to say, “That shows just how much Paul truly loved his Jewish brothers who knew not what they were doing. Paul’s endurance of his mischievous Jewish brothers stems from his sincere love for them, and his enduring hope that they may also come to know Christ as Savior. That’s what Paul was referring to at 2nd Timothy 2:8-10.”

        This is contrary to what phillip has been saying. This individual says that “Paul’s endurance of his mischievous Jewish brothers” is derived from “his enduring hope that they may also come to know Christ as Savior.” Earlier, the individual said, “Yet, despite being an apostle to the Gentiles, Paul had a zealous passion for reaching the Jews. (Romans 9:1-5, 10:1-3, 11:12-14) That explains the expression, ‘they also’.” In other words, this individual says that Paul is only talking about the Jews in the flesh when he says, “the elect” and then his concern is that they, “the elect,” may also come to know Christ as Savior.

        Yet, phillip writes, “I agree,” when he has been disagreeing in his comments. So phillip, can you straighten out what I take this individual is be saying?

      112. I really don’t see the problem here, rhutchin. I really think everyone else reading along understands fully what has been put out there. You seem to be the only one struggling with this. Why, I don’t know.

        However, let me put it this way. The Father called them “the elect/the chosen ones” in the OT. The Son called them “the elect” in the four gospels. “The elect”, “the Jews”, “the circumcision”, are all synonymous with one another. With that in mind we have…

        “I endure all things for the sake of the circumcised, so that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus and with it eternal glory.”

        Do you see anything in that verse regarding the heathen/gentiles/uncircumcised? Not directly. However, salvation was not only to the circumcised (the Jews), but the uncircumcised (the Gentiles) as well. Hence, the “also”, which suggests someone other than the circumcised could (or may) obtain salvation. That other group, in direct contrast to the circumcised, would have to be the uncircumcised. Paul is saying that the elect/the Jews/the circumcised, could (or may) also obtain the salvation that the non-elect/the Gentiles/the uncircumcised were experiencing.

      113. phillip writes, “Do you see anything in that verse regarding the heathen/gentiles/uncircumcised? Not directly.”

        The key admission – “Not directly.” That is the point that I (and even TS00) was making. You are mixing translation with commentary to say, “Paul is saying that the elect/the Jews/the circumcised, could (or may) also obtain the salvation that the non-elect/the Gentiles/the uncircumcised were experiencing.” No one disagrees on that point. The only point at issue is what Paul meant when he used the term, “elect” and two viable positions exist.

      114. I’ll let my “other brother” answer this.

        “The phrase, ‘they also’, ruins this interpretation. If you take out they ‘also’, the Calvinist interpretation becomes more plausible, but who would want to subtract from Scripture? The text would look like this: ‘For this reason I endure all things for the sake of those who are chosen, so that they…may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus and with it eternal glory.’ That would eliminate the contrast, and would make the calvinistically elect into the sole object.”

        Agreed. Your position would require “pulling a Piper”. Then we also have what brother Brian (objectively) has provided…

        “The context leans towards identifying the ‘elect’ as the same ones ‘on account of which’ he is willing to endure suffering, that they also (the ones causing the suffering) ‘may obtain’ salvation… but not certain they will.”

        1. “The elect” are the elect if they obtain salvation or not
        2. There is a high probability the “the elect” will not obtain salvation
        3. The elect are the ones who have imprisoned him and want him dead

        My viable position address all 3 points. Your viable position fails miserably on all 3.

        Hence, only one viable position, though painful as it may be.

      115. “Isn’t that horse dead already?”

        I wish.

        “And a bit off topic.”

        Please show me one article (one thread) on this website that has ever stayed on topic. 🙂

      116. Phillip
        I really don’t see the problem here, rhutchin. I really think everyone else reading along understands fully what has been put out there. You seem to be the only one struggling with this. Why, I don’t know.

        br.d
        We should have warned you in advance Phillip. One will observe over time with Calvinist here – that they see only what they want to see. What they don’t want to see doesn’t exist for them. At some point you will recognize – dialog with RH becomes tail-chasing. That’s just the nature of the beast.

      117. I understand, brother. I have observed the same with Brian interacting with rhutchin over the years. Whoever said “patience is a virtue” never tangled with a Calvinist. Still, had to try.

        However, to be fair, Calvinists are not the only issue here. Our Arminian brothers do the same. For them, “the elect” are those whom God foresees will have faith in Christ. Hence, they have believers, or those in Christ, wanting Paul dead.

        Ouch!

      118. yes I see.
        And I think also perhaps we are looking at the difference between general bible readers vs how a scholar approaches a certain text – “supposedly” with an open mind.

        When E. P. Sanders published his book “The New Perspective on Paul” it landed like a large bomb that exploded right in the middle of biblical scholarship. And things went flying in different directions. Some scholars who hold a death-grip on their tradition of interpretation adamantly rejected making any consideration of it. Others who are open minded and focused on discovering the N.T. author’s intent behind the text were open to applying his findings into their considerations to see how they would survive under scrutiny.

        The general bible reader however is more inclined to believe whatever he is told by someone he chooses as a voice of influence.
        That type of behavior is what kept Europe in the dark ages under the authority of the RC for so many years.

      119. BrD,

        Agreed. However, this behavior has been going on for centuries.

        John 12:42 (NKJV)….
        Nevertheless even among the rulers many believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue

        Honestly, I am not overly impressed by “the experts”. Just give me someone untrained and thirsty for the word. Someone who is willing to think for himself and take the road less traveled.

        Again, I want to thank you for providing that quote (and additional support. I didn’t know it was out there). It says something about you. You, obviously, gave my position credence (when you could have just as easily brushed it off) and therefore were willing to do your own homework. I won’t forget it.

        Many blessings, dear brother.

      120. Thanks!
        And my hats off to you for being a discoverer in the process.
        While others simply accept and believe what they are told.

      121. Good morning Roger, I prefer not to get back into a discussion over this text – 2Timothy 2:10 Suffice to say that this context does not suggest in the least the teaching of individuals elect before creation unto certain salvation after creation. That has to be read into this text. The context leans towards identifying the “elect” as the same ones “on account of which” he is willing to endure suffering, that they also (the ones causing the suffering) “may obtain” salvation… but not certain they will.

      122. Brian,

        Thanks for chiming in, brother. I felt you didn’t want to (which is fine), but your insight and expertise is appreciated. Also, I appreciate your willingness to be open to other plausible interpretations, especially when they might come to odds with your own.

        You are a blessing.

      123. brianwagner writes, “Suffice to say that this context does not suggest in the least the teaching of individuals elect before creation unto certain salvation after creation. ”

        It identified people as elect without indicating a time frame for that election.

        Then, “The context leans towards identifying the “elect” as the same ones “on account of which” he is willing to endure suffering, that they also (the ones causing the suffering) “may obtain” salvation… but not certain they will.”

        That seems to play fast and loose with rules on antecedents, as “they” would, by rule, trace back to “the elect.”

      124. I also like Randolph Yeager’s translation:

        “That is why I have been enduring all of this – for the sake of the elect, in order that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.”

        Of course, “elect” here would be comprised of both Jews and gentiles.

      125. Phillip,
        I’m stunned here!!

        Why would any Calvinist quote this verse??

        “That is why I have been enduring all of this – for the sake of the elect, in order that they also may obtain the salvation…”

        Paul has to “endure” something “in order that….”

        Man is he taking credit for part of their salvation!

        If we said that anywhere near a Calvinist today they would immediately accuse us of “robbing God of His glory….cuz man cannot do anything ‘in order that’ another man get saved. That is 100% God’s job!”

        I present to you Paul….. the first and best non-Calvinist disciple!

      126. FOH,

        Maybe this is what Paul really meant….

        2 Timothy 2:10 (Calvinist Translation)…

        “Therefore I endure nothing, absolutely nothing, for the sake of the elect, because they, and they alone, will obtain the salvation which is Christ Jesus with eternal glory.”

        That’s what they want it to say. But…..NOT!

      127. Phillip:
        One of the things I noticed is how many times Calvinists start the explanation of a passage with “It doesnt really mean what it looks like” or “world here doesnt mean world” or “this is an anthropomorphism and it doesnt mean what it says…”

        There are hundreds and hundreds of these passages that they say “dont meant what they say.” Why they are all in the Word (misleading us about God if Calvinists are right) they can never say.

      128. Well, if true, brother, that is disappointing. Sounds like Catholicism to me. “Here. Its too complicated for you. I’ll tell you what it says. Trust ‘me’.”

        But, Calvinists do believe they are the “enlightened ones”. The only reason they are Calvinist is because of God’s grace. That’s what separates them from everyone else. God’s grace.

      129. Phillip
        Sounds like Catholicism to me.

        br.d
        N.T. Write does say that John Calvin was essentially a Catholic with a small “c”

      130. FOH writes, “There are hundreds and hundreds of these passages that they say “dont meant what they say.””

        Still with the feigned ignorance of the Calvinism he claims to have believed. FOH knows that Calvinists agree with the non-Calvinists on many things that the Scriptures tell us – they then argue that the Scriptures say much more than that. For example, without faith, a person cannot be saved. Calvinists argue that we must take all the Scriptures into account and not just some as FOH would like people to do. Why does FOH have to malign Calvinism to make his points. Why can’t he just say that he chooses to ignore certain verses and be done with it?

      131. Philip
        “Therefore I endure nothing, absolutely nothing, for the sake of the elect, because they, and they alone, will obtain the salvation which is Christ Jesus with eternal glory.”

        That’s what they want it to say. But…..NOT!

        br.d
        A Calvinist interpreting a bible verse always reminds me of a professional contortionist! :-]

      132. FOH writes, “Paul has to “endure” something “in order that….”
        Man is he taking credit for part of their salvation! ”

        Apparently, FOH is pursuing the path of contrived ignorance of the Calvinism in which he was once enamored. FOH knows what Paul said, “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.” Paul does not seek his own glory in saying, “I endure all things,” because he says, “Christ we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus. To this end I also labor, striving according to His working which works in me mightily.” and “For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for necessity is laid upon me; yes, woe is me if I do not preach the gospel! For if I do this willingly, I have a reward; but if against my will, I have been entrusted with a stewardship. What is my reward then? That when I preach the gospel, I may present the gospel of Christ without charge, that I may not abuse my authority in the gospel.” Paul is not taking credit for his preaching or the afflictions he endures. But FOH knows all this. So, what game is FOH playing by his feigned ignorance of this?

      133. Rhutchin writes… “I also like Randolph Yeager’s translation:

        ‘That is why I have been enduring all of this – for the sake of the elect, in order that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.’

        Of course, ‘elect’ here would be comprised of both Jews and gentiles.”

        O, Rhutchin, bless your heart! Even with this translation you still have to deal with the grammar. “Also” STILL introduces another category of people other than “the elect”.

        My understanding of the text still works perfectly (with Yeager’s)….

        “That is why I have been enduring all of this….for the sake of Israel (the elect), in order that they (the Jews/Israelites/the elect) ALSO may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.”

        You are determined to read Calvinism into this text. As long as you insist on doing that, you are going to struggle (with scripture and grammar).

        Kudos to you on effort. But you are still flunking the course.

      134. I don’t often get the chance to stand up for rhutchin, so I will do so while I can. 😉 I also do not see that your proffered reading of the text is necessary. While all who read it will import their own definition of who the ‘elect’ are (I will avoid that debate), the verse itself simply appears to say that Paul bears all things so that the ‘elect’ – however defined – can also, with him, obtain salvation. In other words, he is doing as he has been charged to do – enduring much in order to extend the good news of the gospel to the lost, so that all who believe it may obtain salvation.

        One might argue that ‘also’ implies someone other than Paul, but it is certainly not a necessity, nor do I view it as the most logical reading.

      135. I appreciate your input, brother.

        In Calvinism, only “the elect” (those predestined to salvation) can obtain salvation. Paul would have to be included in that group so the redundancy of “also” would need to be deleted (which Piper was more than happy to do).

        If you take the more popular view that “the elect” refers to the body of Christ or believers, then the verse makes even less (biblical) sense. Believers have obtained salvation in Christ Jesus. And Paul knows that better than anyone. Whoever “the elect” are, its clear from the text that Paul considers them to be lost. And those who are “in Christ Jesus” are definitely not lost.

        Again, I am open to another plausible interpretation to this verse, but, so far, every attempt has failed. I am not saying that there isn’t another viable explanation (there very well could be), but one hasn’t been given here; nor have I read one in any of the bible commentaries (no surprise there). So far, as I can tell, mine is the only one that fits the immediate context, is consistent with the grammar, and aligns with other scripture.

        God bless.

      136. phillip writes, “Paul knows that better than anyone. Whoever “the elect” are, its clear from the text that Paul considers them to be lost. And those who are “in Christ Jesus” are definitely not lost.”

        Paul knows that God’s elect are to be saved through the preaching of the gospel. So, Jesus, ““Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.” Paul says, “Furthermore, when I came to Troas to preach Christ’s gospel, and a door was opened to me by the Lord,… Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place.” Also, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase.”

        The use of “also” by Paul is not a redundancy, but the acknowledgment by Paul that God saves His elect through the preaching of the gospel. To the Thessalonians, Paul writes, “we are bound to give thanks to God always for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God from the beginning chose you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth, to which He called you by our gospel, for the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.” So, we have Paul enduring all things in order to preach the gospel because it is through the preaching of the gospel that God’s elect also obtain salvation even as Paul has.

      137. Once again, I agree with rhutchin. The ‘also’ most naturally refers to any other than Paul and all who have already obtained salvation. Surely one can see that not all obtain salvation until they hear and believe, which is why Paul and the other disciples were called to proclaim the gospel. He endures much suffering in order that the gospel can be proclaimed, and many who are not yet saved will ‘also’ hear and believe. It is a rather obvious interpretation. I’m find your claim that no one else has a meaningful interpretation unconvincing. 😉 We must all resist the temptation to read into scripture what we believe, and assert that there can be no other interpretation, simply because we don’t agree with those offered.

      138. Brother, I completely agree with your overall assessment. And I have stated that there very well could be another plausible interpretation. Taking your understanding of “also” we have…..

        2 Timothy 2:10 (NKJV)….
        Therefore I endure all things for the sake of the elect, that they (the elect) also (along with myself and those who have already obtained salvation) may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.

        I think Piper (and Rhutchin) would agree with you here.

        But that interpretation still has issues (at least from a Calvinistic/Arminian point of view).

        Look at the comment brother Brian just posted…

        “The context leans towards identifying the ‘elect’ as the same ones ‘on account of which’ he is willing to endure suffering, that they also (the ones causing the suffering) ‘may obtain’ salvation… but not certain they will.”

        1. The elect are the elect if they obtain salvation or not (I agree with that).
        2. There is a high probably that “the elect” will not obtain salvation (I agree with that).
        3. The elect are the ones who have imprisoned him and want him dead (I agree with that).

        I agree completely that “we must all resist the temptation to read into scripture what we believe”. That is why my interpretation (if correct, though I could be wrong) has ruffled so many feathers.

      139. phillip writes, “My understanding of the text still works perfectly (with Yeager’s)….

        “That is why I have been enduring all of this….for the sake of Israel (the elect), in order that they (the Jews/Israelites/the elect) ALSO may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.”

        I think Brain ‘s take on this was consistent – “I endure all things at the hands of the unsaved Jews, that the X people may also obtain salvation.”

      140. rhutchin
        Paul wants the elect to obtain salvation also just like X category has.

        br.d
        Either you know what you’re trying to say here – and it just came out irrational – or its just irrational.

        Firstly – if we assume Paul holds to a form of Calvinism – your statement says ” Paul wants the elect to obtain salvation also just as the elect has.

        Secondly – if Paul holds to a form of Calvinism – then he AUTO-MAGICALLY assumes the “elect” are the FEW who Calvin’s god chooses. And the non-elect are the MANY whom Calvin’s god ordained for damnation. And these things would be an AUTO-MAGICAL given – just as much as Calvin’s god’s existence is a given.

        In such case your statement would be the equivalent of saying Paul WANTS DESIRES God to exist.

      141. Rhutchin…. “Paul wants the elect to obtain salvation also just like X category has.”

        br.d….. “Either you know what you’re trying to say here – and it just came out irrational – or its just irrational.”

        Yosemite Sam… “I’m thinking. My head hurts.”

        I can relate.

      142. Rhutchin,

        Not sure who “everyone else” is (perhaps this is referring to the “experts”), but whoever they are, they struggle with grammar. Sad. The elect are still the elect, regardless of “when” (past, present, or future). This lame attempt of an explanation continues to fail the introduction of another category or group of people, other than “the elect”.

        You might have numbers (even “experts”) on your side, but “might” does not make “right”.

        Still looking for closure, brother.

      143. Interesting! I was just thinking the exact same thing yesterday Phillip!

        rhuchin is wonderfully consistent – and provides us some totally incredible examples of Calvinism’s double-speak.

        Wonderful contribution!

      144. rhutchin
        The claim of Calvinism is …..etc

        br.d
        We already understand the type claims Calvinism makes are NOT LOGICAL claims – but SEMANTIC claims.
        For example, a gift is NOT ACTUALLY “offered” – but is SAID to be “offered”.

        These claims are not designed to make sense to LOGICAL people.
        But they are uses-full for Calvinists to perceive themselves as biblical

      145. TS00,
        Once again you are so right!!!

        They cannot have it both ways!

        They cannot say it is “offered to all” AND say that before the foundations of the world the atonement was LIMITED. According to them it was NEVER designed to be offered to all. How dare they besmirch the Calvinist version of God by saying it is “available to everyone.”

        Once again….the the thousandth time…. saying one thing one minute and another the next.

        Sure….sure…..if they want to change it to TUIP. But as a package TULIP deal the L strictly and clearly teaches that it was NOT offered to all.

      146. Well there you go….. the plucking the petals analogy works well since ….

        He loves me….(pluck)

        He loves me not….

      147. To add on to my earlier comment, many a Calvinist (and non-Calvinist) scholar has noted that the TULIP cannot stand without all of its planks. Total Depravity requires Unconditional Election and Irresistible Grace; Unconditional Election and Irresistible grace demand a Limited Atonement; and the existence of the previous four points lead unavoidably to a Perseverance of the Saints. It is an all or nothing deal.

      148. FOH
        Once again….the the thousandth time…. saying one thing one minute and another the next.

        br.d
        Bulls-eye FOH!

        William Lutz – American linguist – What is DoubleSpeak
        quote:
        Basic to doublespeak is INCONGRUITY.
        The incongruity between what is said or left unsaid, and WHAT REALLY IS.
        It is the incongruity between the word and the referent, between seem and be, between the essential function of language.
        What doublespeak does — mislead, distort, inflate, circumvent, obfuscate.

      149. I cannot imagine a more clear refutation of the ‘Doctrines of Grace’ than “Under Calvinism, God makes salvation available to everyone and anyone can freely choose salvation or reject it.” If they are now distorting things that badly, no wonder people are confused as to what being a Calvinist means. Listen up folks; if any Calvinist says that to you, whatever he means, it isn’t what you think it means.

      150. TS00,
        You are so right…. This is a classic statement….

        “Under Calvinism, God makes salvation available to everyone and anyone can freely choose salvation or reject it.”

        Limited Atonement….. it was never intended to the non-elect.

      151. “Under Calvinism, God makes salvation AVAILABLE to everyone and anyone can freely choose salvation or reject it.”

        br.d
        If a father does not PERMIT his son to have a gift – is it TRUE or FALSE to say that father made that gift AVAILABLE to his son?
        I think in order to argue that as TRUE – one has to abuse the term AVAILABLE.

        Here are the assertions of Calvinism:

        1) Whatever Calvin’s god RENDERS-CERTAIN – Calvin’s God PERMITS.
        2) Whatever Calvin’s god does NOT RENDER-CERTAIN – Calvin’s god does NOT PERMIT
        3) Where an individual’s salvation is NOT RENDERED-CERTAIN – and damnation is – the only thing that is PERMITTED is damnation – salvation for that individual is NOT PERMITTED.

        So we must ask the question – is it TRUE or FALSE to say the gift of salvation is AVAILABLE in a GENUINE sense – where the gift of salvation is NOT PERMITTED.

        Remember Calvinist arguments are not LOGICAL arguments.
        They are SEMANTIC arguments – and in SEMANTIC arguments definitions for words are twisted.

      152. TS00
        Listen up folks; if any Calvinist says that to you, whatever he means, it isn’t what you think it means.

        br.d
        Absolutely correct TS00!

        That’s why we call it Calvinist Double-Speak

      153. TS00,
        I dont think it is intentional, deceptive double-speak as much as it is they WANT to adhere to Calvinism but they dont want it to sound (be) as bad as it is:

        Created to be a vessel of His wrath: But God loves everyone…. in a certain way.

        Limited Atonement is true …. But Christ died for everyone ….in a certain way (this is all over Piper’s site).

        Limited Atonement is true….. But “Under Calvinism, God makes salvation available to everyone and anyone can freely choose salvation or reject it.”

        Total Depravity is true…. But man is responsible for his own decisions and choices.

        Sovereignty means absolute determinism…….. but man is responsible for his own decisions and choices.

      154. I get that. I really do. For the layman in the pew. Who simply absorbs what is tossed at him, trusting in the authority, wisdom and accuracy of those who present themselves as religious leaders. It is the leaders, the teachers, the writers of books for whom I have limited tolerance.

        If they don’t know better, they should. Should they not have invested at least as much time as I have grappling with such issues? Should they not, by now, know that there has been an ongoing debate on such issues for centuries, and that they owe it to themselves and those who follow them to study deeply, understand what they believe and express it in a clear, uncomplicated and honest manner?

        If you cannot do this, you should not be a teacher, pastor or public defender of Calvinism. Is that too harsh?

      155. TS00
        Did somebody just remove the ‘L’ out of TULIP?

        br.d
        I think this is just rhutchin here – and not what most serious Calvinists would enunciate.
        I am reminded that rhutchin’s posts manifest a consistent urgency to make Calvinism APPEAR as UN-Calvnistic as possible.

      156. TS00: “Total Ignoring of the countless explanations that faith is not a ‘thing’ (noun) that one receives but the noun referent to the verb ‘believe’, which is a chosen response to the presentation of alleged truth.”

        R: “Then again, “faith” may be the translation of the noun referring to a tangible quality received by the person and “believe” is the verb denoting the manner in which faith manifests itself in the person.”

        Persuasion is not a tangible quality. Tangible means “able to be touched” or “discernible by touch.” If I pick up an orange, the orange is tangible. Even wind is tangible in an abstract sense since it can be discerned by touch – air, not so much. Concepts like love, faith, hope, etc. are not tangible.

        Imagine this scenario: You’ve bought a house in another country, but have never seen it in person. Still, from photos and exchanges with the realtor you believe it exists and even were willing to sign a contract based in that faith. Now, you are going to sell your own home, leave your own country, head to a land you do not know, all while trusting that your new home has really been prepared for you.

        What is tangible in that scenario? The house (well, you have faith it exists, and if it exists it will be tangible,) evidence for the house (photos, realtor,) your country, the new country, and the written contract you signed. Your faith that the house exists or trust in the realtor and photos is NOT a tangible quality.

        For the believer, what is tangible is not belief but what he believes in – Christ. He has faith that Christ exists. He has faith he will receive all manner of other promises as well.

        Believing is just the active state of holding belief. Trusting is just the active state of having trust. There is no English word ‘faithing’, but if there were ‘faithing’ would just be having faith; being persuaded that the secondary evidence once is presented with is enough to prove the existence or reality of something.

        In other non-scripture Greek writings, the word for faith is basically used to mean a guarantee or warranty. The verb means trusting in that guarantee. The “trust” itself is not given people. Rather, people trust in the promise or not based on how strong/authoritative they view the guarantee.

        For example, if I see a salesman hawking essential oils on the roadside and guaranteeing they will make me look ten years younger and cure every ill I have, I won’t put much stock in his guarantee since he has no credibility with me and his claims are not seemingly backed up in any way – I would write him off as a snakeoil salesman.

        Conversely, if my doctor who had correctly prescribed medication for me before recommended an oil and guaranteed it would improve dry skin, I would be more persuaded to trust him and buy the oil, because he had credibility with me and I could seek other testimonies about the effectiveness of the product.

        No one has to “give” me persuasion – it isn’t even a concept that makes sense if given. (If you “give” persuasion, that’s hypnosis, not real persuasion.) But a person can do things and show things to be more persuasive! In God’s case, there is nature, history, miracles, scripture, prophets, apostles, testimonies, Christ’s ministry, Christ’s death and Resurrection, the conviction of the Spirit, the gospel message, etc.

        Those who respond in faith ‘accept the guarantee,’ so to speak – they metaphorically sign the new Covenant in Christ’s blood and enter it, God baptizes them, they now live by the Spirit as they walk in faith looking forward to the rest of the promises they believe in.

        Those who reject the gospel and Christ do not accept the guarantee. They don’t see the promises as assured or don’t trust Christ’s claims. Or, they don’t *want* to believe due to love of sin, etc. I’ve listed many reasons from scripture that some don’t believe in other comments.

      157. JR: ‘Those who respond in faith ‘accept the guarantee,’ so to speak – they metaphorically sign the new Covenant in Christ’s blood and enter it, God baptizes them, they now live by the Spirit as they walk in faith looking forward to the rest of the promises they believe in. ”

        I’ll accept your explanation and conclusion above. You say, “who respond in faith.” Thus, “faith” engenders a response, that I identify with “belief” or “accept the guarantee.” Faith is having assurance and conviction (11:1) that “God is, and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.” (11:6) With such faith, people respond by doing something that I say is believing but we could call it “sign the new Covenant in Christ’s blood” (although that wording troubles me, but let’s go with it).

        I don’t think we are disagreeing on the basics, just how to expalin it.

      158. Jenai:

        Earlier today on another string I wrote that Calvinists often puzzle us by declaring back to us very non-Calvinist verses…. say “see….it says here…”

        Here is a case in point. Calvinists quote back Hebrews 11:6 as if it explains something for them!!!

        “6 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”

        No person in all of history would come up with Calvinism reading this. And certainly they would see the opposite.

        1. We must have faith (does not imply that it is only given to a few).

        2. God can be “pleased”. So much for the Calvinistic-Platonic idea that God does not have emotions….impassible. Our faith can actually please God!! Amazing….but true cuz He says it.

        3. “Anyone who comes to Him…” So much for the Calvinist idea that no one can come to Him!! Too-Dead they say.

        4. “…believe that He exists” So much for the dead thing.

        5. “…that He rewards…” Woah. Cool. He rewards. Of course for Calvinists the formula is Too-Dead, Given-Faith, Irresistibly made to come to Him…..THEN rewarded for that! Amazing! That’s not a reward!

        6. “…earnestly seek Him…” There are many more verses saying we can and should see Him than the one Romans 3 poetic proof-text they use.

        So….. nah…..this whole verse and whole chapter is the anti-Calvinism Chapter….

        They try to whisk it all away by saying “Yeah but God gives the faith that He then rewards.”

        But again I ask….. what then is the point?

      159. Precisely. If God simply wanted a people of faith, and he then, unilaterally and irresistibly, gave one part of his now totally depraved, dead human race said faith and life, why didn’t he just do that in the first place? Because centuries of hatred, murder, war, oppression, rape and genocide sounded more interesting? Because he had such an egotistical need to show his stuff that he couldn’t resist a little mass genocide to impress the ones he ‘loved’? Sheesh, who can even make such stuff up?

      160. FOH writes, “Here is a case in point. Calvinists quote back Hebrews 11:6 as if it explains something for them!!!”

        LOL!!! Hebrews 11:6 says, “And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.” According to Calvinism, Hebrews 11:6 defines faith as, “…believe that God is, and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.” Nothing more; nothing else. FOH knows this, so why doesn’t he mention this in his comment. Sounds suspicious to me.

        Then, “4. “…believe that He exists” So much for the dead thing.”

        Yes. Anyone who believes that God exists has faith and is alive and not dead. So, what is FOH’s point???

        Then, “5. “…that He rewards…” Woah. Cool. He rewards. Of course for Calvinists the formula is Too-Dead, Given-Faith, Irresistibly made to come to Him…..THEN rewarded for that! Amazing! That’s not a reward!”

        Again, a person must have faith – therefore, be alive – to believe that God rewards. So again, what is FOH’s point???

        Then, “6. “…earnestly seek Him…” There are many more verses saying we can and should see Him than the one Romans 3 poetic proof-text they use.”

        FOH is correct. He also knows that a person must have faith to earnestly seek God and that faith comes from hearing the gospel. Why didn’t he mention that. So again, what is FOH’s point???

        What game is FOH playing???

      161. I know you won’t respond, FOH, but it is quite obvious who is playing games. Your logic is valid.

      162. You are so funny! You knew I would not respond and indeed had already deleted that childish response saying to myself….. if I had a nickel for every childish RH jab at me, I would be a rich man!

        Here’s that verse again…..so sweet:

        6 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

        Not only does He reward those who seek Him but in His word He tells the world that He “commends” them.

        2 This is what the ancients were commended for.

        4 By faith Abel …..he was commended as righteous

        5 By faith Enoch ….For before he was taken, he was commended as

        39 These were all commended for their faith…

        What a crazy hermeneutic …….

        God picks certain people to give faith to. He foists it on them (they have no choice in the matter; they must use the faith He foisted on them). They exercise that faith. Then He commends them for it.

        Only in Calvin’s world does that make sense.

      163. Yes, and anyone who steps outside of the Calvinist script and looks at the logic will quickly recognize its absurdity. I once did not understand the critics who pointed out that Calvinism has a certain internal logic, as in all five points lead to one another, but that it is completely lacking in logical consistency to scripture and reality. I now know exactly what they mean.

      164. Each person has a microscopic disk inserted into the brain – called the TOTAL DEPRAVITY disk.
        The disk contains all neurological impulses that will be processed in the brain.

        If that person is designated “elect” – the disk will at some point be replaced with one that contains SAVED neurological impulses.

        But in either case – the individual is totally unaware that neurological impulses occurring within his brain were determined by someone external to himself before he was created. :-]

      165. Jenai R: ‘Those who respond in faith ‘accept the guarantee,’ so to speak – they metaphorically sign the new Covenant in Christ’s blood and enter it, God baptizes them, they now live by the Spirit as they walk in faith looking forward to the rest of the promises they believe in. ”

        br.d
        Its wise to remember phrases like “respond in faith”, “accept the guarantee”, “sign the new covenant”, “live in the spirit”, “walk in faith” etc- etc – etc ……are classified in Calvinism as the AFTER EFFECT of a supernatural influence that is projected onto the individual – and the power of that spell that is cast upon the individual is such that the individual CANNOT RESIST it.

        So the Calvinist can agree with all such statements.

      166. br.d,
        Yes…and what they also say comes AFTER regeneration is “born of the Spirit” “given new life” “born again” “living in Christ” “alive in Christ”.

        So….Calvinists say that dead people are “regenerated” (given life), then they express their faith, and are then given life (again) in Christ.

        So….Calvinists say that dead people are “regenerated” (given life) then express their faith, then are born again (again).

        So….Calvinists say that dead people are “regenerated” (given life) then express their faith, then are made alive (again) life in Christ.

        Sproul’s famous “regeneration precedes faith” is also

        “(new life) regeneration precedes regeneration” and

        “(new life) regeneration precedes new life”

        The ordus salutis (they like to talk in Latin— cuz Augustine was a Catholic priest) is regeneration, foisted faith, then regeneration.

      167. I responded to this idea that Paul being called “specially” shows that God does that exceptionally. If He did it all the time to every person then there is no sense to the “special call” of Paul, Jeremiah, and David (the ones I mentioned in the previous post).

      168. Total Ignoring of the countless explanations that faith is not a ‘thing’ (noun) that one receives but the noun referent to the verb ‘believe’, which is a chosen response to the presentation of alleged truth.

        He who hears God’s revelation of who he is and what he promises has a choice: he will either believe and receive the declared revelation, or he will deny and reject its veracity.

      169. TS00 writes, “Total Ignoring of the countless explanations that faith is not a ‘thing’ (noun) that one receives but the noun referent to the verb ‘believe’, which is a chosen response to the presentation of alleged truth.”

        Then again, “faith” may be the translation of the noun referring to a tangible quality received by the person and “believe” is the verb denoting the manner in which faith manifests itself in the person.

      170. Sorry for the double post. My phone didn’t recognize me, and couldn’t tell if it posted.

    2. Hi Rhutchin,

      The “supernatural” clarification can be found under the comments of the blog, not Olson’s original blog post. Sorry if my reply was confusing, I did mention “and the comments.” But my article above is not specifically to the point of supernatural enabling, just any ‘further’ enabling beyond the graces God already gave at the gospel and cross.

      That is, pretty much all Christians would agree that with neither gospel or dreams/visions or some method for a person to here the gospel, no person could believe. For a person to be “able” to accept the gospel in faith, he must first hear the gospel or read about it or otherwise be presented with it. That is why many of us say the gospel “enables” man to believe, since it reveals to the fallen person that he is a sinner, that there is a Savior, that God will graciously grant him salvation if he believes, etc. No human in the world who had never heard of Jesus in the gospel in any way would think up the gospel out of their own head.

      But when many Arminians speak of enabling grace, including Dr. Olson, that is not what they are talking about. Rather, because most Calvinists and Arminians hold to the underlying assumption of total depravity, that fallen man cannot have faith even when confronted with the gospel, then something else must happen before the sinner can believe. For Arminians that ‘something’ is usually viewed as a special act of the Holy Spirit, to everyone who hears the gospel, to enable them to believe such as freeing the mind or will. For Calvinists the ‘something needed’ varies quite a bit more, but is usually either prior regeneration, partial regeneration, God overwhelming a person with proof, God just giving a person faith, the faith of Jesus being effectually applied to a person, etc.

      The crux of my argument above isn’t to dive into the relative strengths of all these positions, but rather address the charge that one essentially has to pick between belief in the theory of Total Inability (man is unable to believe) and belief that man, not God, initiates salvation – as if the only options were Calvinist, Arminianism, or Semi-Pelagianism. And as demonstrated, there is no logical reason to believe rejection of the theory of Total Inability (whether one personally thinks that wise or not) would make one have to belief man is the initiator of salvation.

      *****

      “The issue of TD/TI is the condition of man’s spirit – is the lost person spiritually dead and thereby unable to respond to God and if so, what must God do to negate that condition”

      That wasn’t the topic of my argument. But let’s assume for a moment that theory of Total Inability is true in all parts, and fallen man cannot believe. Now let’s imagine half the church still rejects that idea. Does that mean those people who reject the idea must believe man saves himself or initiates his own salvation? No. They could still believe all the verses I posted above in my essay and more. Even if they were to believe ‘wrongly’ on the topic of Total Inability (as you, for example, might think they do) this would not logically entail that they must believe God initiates salvation.

      Now, let’s assume for a moment that Total Inability is false. Could anyone tell God that logically there must be either Total Inability or man must initiate salvation? I think God would have a laugh at that idea that if the fall of man did not make faith impossible for men when confronted with the gospel then God has to give man the credit for salvation.

      So if false it would not make “man initiate salvation,” and if true would not make anyone who wrongly believed otherwise have to think “man initiates salvation.” The charge that “man initiates salvation” is the only alternative to Total Inability for others to believe, then, is incorrect. It’s a false dilemma.

      “An argument is then given to answer the question, “What does it mean for God to initiate salvation?” The ensuing argument leaves out any Scripture that Olson or a Calvinist would point to in support of TD/TI This allows the author to say, “Below you will find brief comments of other passages which all Christians should be able to agree shows that God initiates that, we would argue, do not require Total Inability.” Leave out the opponents argument and you can easily argue your position. But, so what?”

      Are you disagreeing that God initiates salvation? If not, I fail to understand your point. My essay above is not an argument, specifically, against the theory of Total Depravity. That’s it’s own topic. My article is about the charge that disbelieving in total depravity (not finding it personally scripturally supported or implied, etc.) would make a person “have” to believe that man initiates salvation, or the idea that man initiating salvation, not God, is the only possible alternative to the theory of inability. One can show that a line of reasoning is fallacious without needing to go into detail on every premise that feeds into it. The line of reasoning would fail *even if* Total Inability was assumed true, as I just demonstrated in this comment.

      “I don’t think this. The argument is not whether man initiates his salvation but whether man cooperates in his salvation – God does His part and man does his part to procure salvation.”

      I’m pretty sure Dr. Olson’s blog said “initiate salvation” not “cooperate with.” I don’t think you get to move the goal posts for someone else’s claim and pretend that’s what the argument is actually about. 😉

      But briefly, you’ve introduced so many English terms here it’s near impossible to know what you are meaning or if it is even a bad thing. Man *accomplishing* part of salvation would not be possible. Man cooperating with a would-be-deliverer by acknowledging he needs a rescue and accepting the rescue? Fully possible. If you mean procure as in merit or go out and obtain by some effort or skill – impossible. If you mean procure as in welcome a freely offered gift which someone else did all the work for, or accept an invitation into a covenant, and then be graciously granted the rewards and promises following that, such as in Jn 1:12 and Heb 6:15, etc. – no problem.

      “”Then, ‘Also, why do you specifically believe that someone rejecting the Calvinist/Arminian theory of Total Inability would necessitate his rejecting all the ample passages of scripture (many listed in the above post) as to how God graciously initiates salvation?”

      “I don’t believe that.” Great! You aren’t the intended audience of this article then. This is written to those who do believe that rejecting the theory of Total Inability must mean one believes God initiates salvation. (Or, more broadly as already mentioned, that thought that Total Inability must be true ‘else’ man would initiate his own salvation.)

      “Certainly God initiates salvation – the question being, To what degree must God act to enable a person to be saved.”

      That’s not the question of this article, it’s a different question. Interestingly enough, though, the concept of ‘degrees’ is related.

      Imagine four men, C, D, E, and F, live in a desert in a small shack. Unbeknownst to them, the house is slowly sinking and a distant sandstorm is on the way. Without intervention, they will both perish in their ignorance. A traveler comes and tells them of the danger, and offers to guide them to a distant Oasis and provide a home for them there. C believes the traveler and the traveler offers him a pack for a journey. But the other two refuse to come. The traveler offers them a telescope so they can now see both the distant sandstorm and lush Oasis, and shows them the exact spots in the house which are buckling. D decides that is proof enough for him, and the traveler gives him a pack for the journey as well. But E and F are stubborn. Perhaps the storm will change direction. Perhaps they can fix up the house. So, the traveler reaches over and scoops F up, carrying him out of the house and tying him to a camel. C, D, and restrained F all head out on the journey with the traveler, eventually coming to the Oasis and getting a new home, where finally F realizes that the traveler was right and thanks him for forcing him to come along.

      Now, in every case above, the traveler initiated ‘saving’ the men from the sandstorm. But their responses showed various degrees of action by the traveler. For one, telling of the danger and promising a safe haven was enough. For the second, opening the man’s eyes and overwhelmingly proving the danger and promise is real. For the third, he just chose of himself to drag the man to safety. For the fourth man, well, he’s buried in sand.

      While that’s an imperfect analogy, it should be clear enough that differences in the degree of persuasion or even force that an initiator uses wouldn’t change his position as initiator.

      ” If TD/TI is correct, then certain actions are called for and Calvinists and Arminians can cite Scriptures detailing these actions. If ane argues that TD/TI is not correct, then those Scriptures may be ignored as the essay above does.”

      I’m a little confused as to your meaning here. The essay wasn’t about directly evaluating the theory of total inability. But the article above does give many, many actions God takes to initiate salvation. It even mentions that the list is non-exhaustive. I’m pretty sure some verses often used as support verses for Total Inability made it into the mix. If you feel a verse has been ignored, feel free to post it – but please understand that someone not talking specifically about a topic they weren’t claiming to talk specifically about doesn’t mean they are ‘ignoring’ verses.

      I cannot stress this enough: this article is about a specific line of reasoning and why it fails. It is not specifically about the relative strength of different premises. While comparing premises would be a great topic, it’s not this one.

      “The answer is, Yes. Under Total Depravity, a person cannot respond to the gospel for two reasons – (1) he is spiritually dead, and (2) he has no faith with which to respond. If one rejects this notion of TD, then the presumption is that faith is inherent and something a person is born with. The person has a faith that seeks an object for his faith. If a person has no faith (thereby being TD), and can only receive faith through the hearing of the gospel, then of course, God becomes the initiator of salvation through His gift of faith (among many other graces).”

      You set up several false dilemmas here and assume many premises – this does not prove your point. No non-Calvinist “presumes” that faith is something humans are “born with” – I suggest you ask people what they believe rather than assume it. Furthermore, you just present one way God could initiate salvation – that doesn’t disprove other ways or make other ways less of an initiation. Even in your own view you mention the necessity of the gospel – why do you think God only “becomes” the initiator after that if He gives faith? With all due respect, your view would seem to make God out to be less of the initiator for salvation, since apparently graces given prior to faith are not counted as initiation? It is confusing, to say the least.

      In scripture, faith is a type of response to evidence or testimony. It is the inborn persuasion that something is true, even if we do not have direct proof/sight. For example, a child trusting the testimony of a teacher that germs are real, even when the child cannot see them, is ‘faith’ in germs. Faith in Christ, then, is not bound to be either something “born with” or something effectually given by someone else (indeed, the latter would make it more like proof, which would seem to defeat the point.)

      The term scripture uses for ‘receiving’ Christ is lambanó, https://biblehub.com/greek/2983.htm, which is to actively, personally, take what is offered. This ‘taking of a gift’ is treated as equivalent to believing in the name of Christ. So faith is not something effectually granted – rather the object of faith (Christ) is revealed to us through the gospel message, testimony, etc. We then either receive Christ in faith or refuse Him and stand condemned.

      When you say “Faith is a gift” I am assuming you are referencing Eph 2:8? But in Eph 2:8 the gift is *salvation, by grace and through faith.*
      ‘Faith’ and ‘grace’ are in the feminine gender, but the gift of God is in the neuter gender. In Greek, this then applies the ‘gift’ to the entire clause. There is no grammatical way to make faith the gift (‘nearest antecedent’ only applies when the genders match.)

      The process of salvation is taken as a whole in regards to source, reason, and mechanism. Paul contrasts salvation by grace and through faith with ‘works’, for man cannot achieve salvation by his own merit.

      It’s a similar train of thought to Rom 5:18-21. While we were all condemned by the law and sin reigned, the death of Christ brought justification by His own blood. In this grace reigns (the ‘by’), through righteousness and through Jesus (the process), to bring eternal life (the ‘what’). The process is given in even more detail in Rom 3:22-26: Righteousness is given through faith to all who believe. We are justified by grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. God displayed Christ publicly (grace) as a propitiation (atoning sacrifice) whose blood is applied to us through faith. These and other similar passages are summaries of the gospel; that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. We receive Him by faith and are justified, receiving the righteousness of Christ in place of our own sins, and will never perish but will have eternal life. (Tit 3:3-8, Heb 10:22, II Tim 1:9-11, 2 Corinthians 5:21)

      I agree that man is spiritually dead. I would guess we mean different things by it. I see the fallen nature of man as meaning we are corrupted by the flesh, slaves of sin, lawbreakers under the penalty of death, etc. I do not see it as scripturally or logically meaning that fallen man is “unable” to repent and believe when he hears the gospel message.

      As for premise 2, “he has no faith with which to respond” that makes little sense, so I would disagree with it, for the scripture and reasons I just got into above. Even if he has “no faith” before he hears the gospel, he can put faith in what he hears the same way the child who may have formerly thought demons or bad odors caused sickness can put faith in the existence of invisible organisms when the teacher explains germs. “The person has a faith that seeks an object for his faith” also makes little sense. Faith as a noun is what we believe in (Christ is Lord, etc.) Faith as a verb is the act of believing. Faith only exists if it has an object, it doesn’t ‘seek’ an object. As to the last point, humans believing in Jesus upon hearing the gospel (Rom 11, etc.) is not equivalent to God handing some people and not others faith. And God initiates effectual salvation when He baptizes the believer into His household, covers the believer with the blood of Christ, etc. as I detailed in my article. Faith itself is not salvation, so even if God did (as per your view) give people effectual faith that would not in and of itself confer or initiate effectual salvation. Salvation is the new birth, deliverance, forgiveness, reconciliation, etc. that God gives to believers. It’s a separate concept from faith. Faith does not save of itself; God saves those with faith, the condition He graciously gave. Huge difference!

      1. Woah…. that was nice and long!

        Your presentation is working for some of us, but I think you are assuming that RH responds to logic and scripture. Not really what we have seen.

        And as for CDEF and the shack: here is the Calvinist version.

        ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ are stone cold dead on the floor in the shack. The traveler “resuscitates” F and tells him that he “can now freely” get on the camel to leave. While F is considering his options…. being “convinced” and “reasoned with,” the traveler picks him up and carries him and ties him to the camel.

        While traveling, F asks the Traveler why He did not resuscitate any others. The Traveler tells him that they were not resuscitated because He did not want to, but anyway…..they got what the truly wanted. The Traveler also tells him that he (F) “freely chose” to come.

        Good News that!

      2. If I was ‘F’ I would be horrified and beg to be returned to the shack. Better perish than live forever with a crazy dude who kidnapped me and left my friends to die.

      3. JR writes, “For a person to be “able” to accept the gospel in faith,…”

        One does not accept the gospel in faith. We can speak of he gospel of faith as faith is conveyed through the gospel. From Hebrews 11, we know that faith consists of assurance and conviction; such assurance and conviction is conveyed to certain people who hear the gospel. It is this assurance and conviction that then leads a person to believe Christ. Faith provides the basis for one to believe. The gospel conveys assurance and conviction to a person resulting in belief. However, we seem to agree: Absent the gospel no one could be saved reinforcing TD/TI.

        Then, “But when many Arminians speak of enabling grace,…”

        The purpose of enabling (prevenient) or saving (irresistible) grace is to override TD/TI. Even you seem to recognize this in the necessity for the gospel to be heard. The issue is then to account for only some who hear the gospel and believe. Something else must happen to a person who “hears” the gospel before he “believes” the gospel. Thus, “…the underlying assumption of total depravity, fallen man cannot have faith even when confronted with the gospel, then something else must happen before the sinner can believe.” Technically, the underlying assumption of TD/TI is that a person cannot be saved apart from faith and faith is conveyed only through the gospel. If faith were conveyed to all who heard the gospel, then all would be saved. There is a need for faith. So the question, “Why don’t all who hear the gospel receive faith and believe?

        Then, “The crux of my argument above isn’t to dive into the relative strengths of all these positions, but rather address the charge that one essentially has to pick between belief in the theory of Total Inability (man is unable to believe) and belief that man, not God, initiates salvation…”

        The theory of TD/TI is that none has faith and thus is unable to believe. TD/TI requires that God initiate salvation by first sending the gospel out and then conveying faith (the assurance and conviction of Hebrews 11) to some, but not all, of those who hear it. If one says that the gospel enlivens a dead faith already residing in the person, and that faith is the basis for salvation, then one could say that the person initiates (or better, cooperates) in his salvation without such cooperation, he could not be saved.

        Then, “And as demonstrated, there is no logical reason to believe rejection of the theory of Total Inability (whether one personally thinks that wise or not) would make one have to belief man is the initiator of salvation. ”

        Without TD/TI, the gospel is not necessary to override a condition (lack of faith) that makes salvation impossible. It must only provide information to make salvation available. The person takes this information, chews on it for a while, and decides Yea or Nay. In this sense, the person is the initiator of his salvation (however, I think the Calvinist argument is that the non-Calvinist has a person cooperating with God in his salvation without such cooperation he could not be saved).

      4. Rhutchin –

        R: “One does not accept the gospel in faith.”

        J:
        “Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.” I Cor 15:1-2

        We receive/accept the gospel in faith.

        “For if someone comes and proclaims a Jesus other than the One we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit than the One you received, or a different gospel than the one you accepted, you put up with it way too easily.” II Cor 11:4

        But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart,” that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming: that if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with your heart you believe and are justified, and with your mouth you confess and are saved. It is just as the Scripture says: “Anyone who believes in Him will never be put to shame.”… “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” How then can they call on the One in whom they have not believed? And how can they believe in the One of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone to preach? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” Rom 10:8-15

        Hearing the gospel message is a necessary, but not sufficient, condition to have faith. The person must not just hear it, but believe it, and confess it. Note that no one believes because they are given undeniable proof or just handed belief on a platter, but they must “believe with the heart” (Compare this to the words of Luke 24:25, where Jesus calls the unbelieving Pharisees “slow of heart” to believe all that God said through His word and the prophets.) and “confess (agree)” that Jesus is Lord.

        R: “We can speak of he gospel of faith as faith is conveyed through the gospel. From Hebrews 11, we know that faith consists of assurance and conviction; such assurance and conviction is conveyed to certain people who hear the gospel. It is this assurance and conviction that then leads a person to believe Christ. Faith provides the basis for one to believe. The gospel conveys assurance and conviction to a person resulting in belief. However, we seem to agree: Absent the gospel no one could be saved reinforcing TD/TI.”

        J: Faith and belief (noun) are synonyms. Having faith and believing (verbs) are synonyms. You seem to be treating them differently. “Faith provides the basis for one to have belief” makes little sense since it means “trust provides the basis for one to trust,” in so many words. If you mean “The Faith” as in “the gospel” or “what is believed by Christians” such as it is used in Jude 1:3, then that would make more sense. The gospel does indeed make promises and claims to the hearer. And those claims are 100% true, and those promises 100% assured to the believer, which is what Heb 11:1 is getting at. But the “confidence” in those claims is not something conferred to certain people and not others. The hearer either welcomes the gospel and put confidence/trust in its claims and promises, or doesn’t. Then the hearer must confess/agree Jesus is Lord. (In some rare cases, the hearer may trust the truth of the message as even demons do, but still refuse to confess Jesus as their Lord!)

        I suggest you read Heb 11:1 in its context. You will not find that confidence is something conferred onto people, but rather the confidence of the patriarchs and others in the promise is what spurred them to continue following God, even without “seeing” the fulfillment of the promise. Note that Abraham reasoned/logically deduced that God could even raise the dead in order to fulfill a promise. Sarah supposed/considered that God was faithful. The whole chapter is about people who braved the wrath of rulers, gave up comfortable lives, or otherwise risked or suffered mistreatment, torture, imprisonment, etc. because they hoped for the future and had faith in the promises of God. Their faith was not because God “gave them” assurance, but because they trusted that God, due to His character and power, could and would make good on all His promises.

        Sometimes people stop at the end of Heb 11 – but Paul is building up an argument. The conclusion is in the next chapter.
        “These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.” Heb 11:40

        “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” Heb 12:1-3

        The reason Paul wants us to focus on the promises of God, and look to those who suffered all manner of adversity while looking forward to the promises, is because we will likely face both opposition from sinners and the temptation to sin in our own lives. Keeping our “eye on the prize” helps us keep running the race. Focusing on the joy set before us helps us endure any torture or adversity. Looking to others who have gone through adversity and overcome in faith encourages us to resist sin. Considering Christ helps us not “lose heart.”

        Heb 3 and other passages of scripture have a lot to say on this topic as well.

        R: “The purpose of enabling (prevenient) or saving (irresistible) grace is to override TD/TI. Even you seem to recognize this in the necessity for the gospel to be heard.”

        J: Total Inability is the theory that fallen man cannot respond in faith *even if* presented with the gospel. Hence the term “Inability.” That someone believes that hearing the gospel message is a necessary for someone to believe in the gospel hardly mandates agreement with either the theory of Total Inability or of Total Depravity. It’s too bad we can’t insert Venn Diagrams…

        R: “The issue is then to account for only some who hear the gospel and believe. Something else must happen to a person who “hears” the gospel before he “believes” the gospel.”

        J: Perhaps this is the real crux of the issue, for you? Why some believe, and others do not? Scripture dives into many reasons some believe (awaiting the Messiah, disposed towards eternal life, simple childlike trust, understood scriptures, joy at the promises, humbly recognize they are sinners in need of forgiveness, love God when He is revealed to them, testimony of the martyrs, etc.) and many reasons some might not believe (love of sin, hardened heart in rebellion, love of self, pride, reject testimony of scriptures/God/prophets that speak of Christ, cares of the world, not wanting their sin exposed, love lies more than truth, etc.)

        Blaise Pascal has an excellent bit about this very quandary in Pensées. Trust can be based in so many things – from simple childlike acceptance to complex logical deduction – and no one way or reason for the persuasion that Jesus is the Messiah is superior to another, since no matter the “why” the end result is the same: the person trusts the gospel and is assured of all God’s promises.

        And no matter the reason someone personally rejects the truth, the end result is the same. All who reject Jesus stand condemned.

        R: “Technically, the underlying assumption of TD/TI is that a person cannot be saved apart from faith and faith is conveyed only through the gospel”

        J: Those are assumptions that come out of the theories, they don’t underly them. E.g. because man is totally depraved, he cannot be saved apart from faith; because man is totally unable, he can’t respond to the gospel in faith; because TD/TI, the man must get faith in another way, such as prior regeneration, being given faith, the faith of Jesus applied to him, partial regeneration, overwhelming proof given, etc. (there are at least five or six different ‘ways’ I have seen various Calvinists propose as the solution here. Some believe multiple. Yours would fall under the “given faith” variety.)

        R: “If faith were conveyed to all who heard the gospel, then all would be saved. There is a need for faith.”

        J: Faith is not “conveyed” to anyone who hears the gospel. Your base premise is incorrect. But there is indeed a need for faith for God to graciously grant salvation. The *object* of our faith, Christ, was revealed to man first in His Earthly ministry and then through testimony and the gospel. Hearers either place trust in those secondary evidences and the promises or don’t. They either change their mind/repent, or they don’t.

        R: “So the question, “Why don’t all who hear the gospel receive faith and believe?”

        J: I already got into that a little, but the ‘short answer’ is that many people are too proud to admit sin, love their sin, or are otherwise unwilling. Really, though, there are countless reasons some do not believe and countless reasons others do believe. Humility, a willingness to recognize one’s correct position as a sinner before God, does seem to be a common factor.

        R: “The theory of TD/TI is that none has faith and thus is unable to believe.”

        J: No, the theory of total depravity/total inability is that man is fallen/corrupted due to sin morally, physically, mentally, etc. to such an extent that man cannot work for or merit salvation (a point all Christians agree on) AND cannot even respond to the gospel in faith (the section referred to as Total Inability, and is not a point all Christians agree on.) Or in other words, that man is ‘spiritually dead’ and so ‘like a corpse’ cannot respond to the revealing light and draw of Christ through the gospel.

        It’s not “man doesn’t have faith, so is unable to believe.” The corrupt fallen flesh, not lack of faith, is the driving idea behind the theory of Total Depravity.

        R: “TD/TI requires that God initiate salvation by first sending the gospel out and then conveying faith (the assurance and conviction of Hebrews 11) to some, but not all, of those who hear it.”

        J: TD/TI requires a ‘solution’ so man can end up with faith – not necessarily the solution you personally believe in. For most Arminians, the solution is God simply ‘enables’ everyone who hears the gospel so they can believe (in the sense of some supernatural change to their fallen nature.) Now that the fallen person ‘can’ believe, some choose to and others refuse to. For Calvinists, the solutions vary. For some, like you, they believe faith itself is effectually given. Others believe the Holy Spirit regenerates a select view, making them born again so they can, and indeed must when combined with the theory of irresistible grace, believe. For others, they believe that Christ’s own faith in the Father is effectually applied to the fallen sinner. Yet others believe that only a partial regeneration is required, much like the Arminian thought, of mind or heart – but that the insight this gives is not resistible and all who receive it will necessarily believe. Etc. There is some cross-over, but you will find it is not an area of complete agreement among Calvinists over what precisely is required to solve the problem that TD introduced to begin with.

        R: “If one says that the gospel enlivens a dead faith already residing in the person…

        J: No one says this. You are presenting a strawman argument, and a strange one at that. The gospel presents Christ to the fallen sinner. The fallen sinner either is persuaded that the testimony is true or is not. They either believe or do not. If they receive Christ in faith (Jn 1:12) then they die to sin and the law, God raises them to new life in Christ and gives them the indwelling Spirit, God grants them the right to become a child of God, etc. Faith in Christ is not something waiting within a person to be made alive, or sitting without a person waiting to be effectually given. It’s a response, trust, a person has in response to secondary (non-‘sight’) evidence.

        R: “faith is the basis for salvation”

        J: It’s one necessary requirement, but not because it merits salvation or starts the process of salvation or is part of salvation. It is the basis because God graciously made it the condition, not because it would be worth anything of itself otherwise. Man couldn’t achieve salvation by works, but God wanted men to be saved, so God made the condition faith. (The implication in Galations and elsewhere that the condition was chosen because even a fallen human could trust in *someone else’s* work, namely Christ, or accept a pardon won by someone else.) The ‘true’ basis for salvation is the work of Christ and God’s gracious eternal plan as those are the underlying bottom layers, not faith. But it is fair to say faith is a personal requirement to be saved, so is a necessary thing even if not the true “basis” of salvation.

        R: “then one could say that the person initiates (or better, cooperates) in his salvation without such cooperation, he could not be saved.”

        J: Initiation and cooperation are very different things. This article was about initiation. As to cooperation, a person doesn’t cooperate/help with salvation by having faith, since salvation is not faith and faith is not salvation. God graciously grants salvation to the person with faith. It’s not that He “couldn’t save” a person without faith, but that God chooses to only save those with faith for the sake of His own character. If you accept a gift someone gives you, it doesn’t mean you cooperated with the making or buying or giving of the gift.

        Now, one could say that man cooperates with faith – that would be fair enough to say. Since both God and man are involved in faith (One offering the draw and testimony and revelation and good news victory has been one at the cross, the other trusting in that evidence) one could say they cooperate just as a person choosing to welcome a gift ‘cooperates’ in the acceptance of the gift as it is handed off.

        One way I have heard this termed is “Monergistic salvation, synergistic faith.” I think that is a fair enough assessment.

        But regardless of how one terms it, scripture never implies that it would be somehow terrible if man had the ability to repent and believe or that man trusting the gospel, without faith itself being effectually given, would make man partially responsible for actual salvation. Rather, scripture is pretty straightforward that fallen man needs to believe to be saved, but that it’s God’s gracious choice to grant salvation and eternal life to believers – not something faith merits of itself. God saves, not man. But it was His sovereign choice to only save those with faith, since only believers trust in the covering blood of Jesus Christ.

        For OT parallels, look at the deliverance of the Israelites from Egypt, or the deliverance of Israelites from the Angel of death.

        There were things the Israelites had to do: sacrifice lambs, apply blood to the doorframe, actually leave Egypt and keep walking/following, etc. Did God say, “Oh no, let me apply the blood for you, lest you take partial credit for my deliverance!” Or “Oh, here, let me irresistibly float you across the sea, lest onlookers think you cooperated with my miracle if I did something like ask you to walk.” Of course not! That they had to trust and follow and apply the blood did not minimize the deliverance and miracles of God. In the same way, our faith in the blood of Christ to cover us in no way minimizes the deliverance and salvation God graciously brings to those with faith.

        This will have to be my last reply to you on this topic. I’m glad we’ve been able to pack many of your underlying concerns, but it is apparent that you think others believe a great many things they do not and this is really affecting the premises you propose. I really recommend researching the views of those you disagree with to the point you could even argue them yourself, if needed, as this will really minimize the chance thinking or proposing that others believe other than they do (e.g. believe/propose strawman or prop argments rather than seeking understanding of others.)

      5. JR: “Hearing the gospel message is a necessary, but not sufficient, condition to have faith….”

        I agree. My point was that the gospel is the means by which God conveys faith to a person. It is by this faith that we believe in Christ. Faith is not the means by which we believe the gospel but faith is the means by which we believe in Him whom the gospel describes to us. Where you state, “We receive/accept the gospel in faith,” I would say, “We receive/accept Christ in faith – a faith derived from the gospel.”

        JR: “Faith and belief (noun) are synonyms.”

        I am not sure about that. For now, I take them to have separate meanings. With faith, one has assurance and conviction; in belief one acts on that assurance and conviction. Faith is a noun; believing is a verb. As you stated, …the hearer may trust the truth of the message as even demons do, but still refuse to confess Jesus as their Lord! Faith bridges the gap between believing that the gospel is true and believing in Christ and confessing Him as Lord. So, “…the confidence [faith] of the patriarchs and others in the promise is what spurred them to continue following [believing] God,” Where you say, “Their faith was not because God “gave them” assurance, but because they trusted that God,” I would say, Their faith was because God “gave them” assurance, and enabled them to trust God,” It is a technical point, I guess.

        More later.

      6. JR: “The reason Paul wants us to focus on the promises of God,…is because we will likely face both opposition from sinners…”

        I agree and think most, if not all, also agree.

        Then, ‘Total Inability is the theory that fallen man cannot respond in faith *even if* presented with the gospel.”

        This because TI says a person has no faith and cannot have faith without hearing the gospel. Thus, Christ’s saying, “He who has ears to hear…”

        Then, “That someone believes that hearing the gospel message is a necessary for someone to believe in the gospel hardly mandates agreement with either the theory of Total Inability or of Total Depravity.”

        That’s fine. Now you just need to explain what makes hearing the gospel necessary to convey faith without appealing to TI preceding that conveyance of faith. Go for it.

        Then, “Perhaps this is the real crux of the issue, for you? Why some believe, and others do not?”

        Of course it is. It was to explain why people reject the gospel that we get to TD/TI as the explanation. If you have an alternate explanation, let’s hear it.

        Then, “Scripture dives into many reasons some believe…and many reasons some might not believe …”

        Absolutely not!! People believe because they have faith; people do not believe because they do not have faith. People are saved by grace, through faith. For God to give a person faith is to ensure that they will believe.

        Then, “because TD/TI, the man must get faith in another way, such as prior regeneration,”

        Absolutely not!! The only way for a person to receive faith is through the gospel. Calvinists will say that regeneration is necessary to prepare a person to receive faith when they hear the gospel. I don’t think Calvinists disagree on this point and I really don’t know what you mean when you say “(there are at least five or six different ‘ways’ I have seen various Calvinists propose as the solution here….).”

        Then, “Faith is not “conveyed” to anyone who hears the gospel. Your base premise is incorrect.”

        Paul wrote, “faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.” If you can explain this otherwise than the Calvinist, do so.

        Then, “It’s not “man doesn’t have faith, so is unable to believe.” The corrupt fallen flesh, not lack of faith, is the driving idea behind the theory of Total Depravity.”

        Not in Calvinism. In Calvinism, the corrupted flesh is devoid of faith and thereby TD/TI. A corrupted flesh is necessary to TD, but is not sufficient to produce TD – it is the lack of faith that seems man’s condition.

        Then, “For most Arminians, the solution is God simply ‘enables’ everyone who hears the gospel so they can believe (in the sense of some supernatural change to their fallen nature.)”

        I am not Arminian, so I do not know. I suspect that Arminians understand that prevenient grace enables a person to receive faith once the person hears the gospel. I’ll yield to Dr. Olson on this point when he says, “It seems to me that the Bible does teach that the sinner in incapable of responding to the offer of saving grace with repentance and faith without a supernatural work of God…” I think he means that prevenient grace makes repentance and faith possible when neither is possible without preveient grace.

        I think we have bet this horse enough.

      7. rhutchin: ‘“The issue of TD/TI is the condition of man’s spirit …”
        JR: “That wasn’t the topic of my argument….”

        As both Calvinism and Arminianism take man to be TD/TI, he cannot initiate his own salvation (i.e., decide that he wants to be saved or to seek salvation). This is your conclusion also, but it is not clear why a person could not initiate his salvation under your system. However, you opened the essay with, “…there is a more fundamental question that Dr. Olson leaves unaddressed. Does spurning the idea that an unregenerate, fallen man is incapable of responding to the gospel in faith, the theory of Total Inability which is shared by Calvinists and many Arminians, mean that one must believe that man is “the initiator in salvation”?” Why would Dr, Olson need to deal with that issue? Given that you agree that God initiates salvation in the manner described in your essay, there is the presumption that you agree with Dr. Olson even if you disagree about TD/TI. You just need to explain what you see preventing a person initiating his salvation (e.g., by seeking atonement for his behavior) without any action by God and then pursuing his salvation once he hears the gospel.

        Then, “The charge that “man initiates salvation” is the only alternative to Total Inability for others to believe, then, is incorrect. It’s a false dilemma.”

        I commented to Dr. Olson, and he replied, “I am still confused about the role of the Holy Spirit in the “Traditionalist Baptist” (non-Calvinist, non-Arminian) soteriology.” For example, does the Holy Spirit convey faith to one who hears the gospel? Apparently not, since that position is a TI position – without faith a person cannot come to Christ. However, if a person already has faith apart from hearing the gospel, then the purpose of the gospel is to enable a person to initiate his salvation by exercising his faith. You seem to be saying that God initiates salvation just by making the gospel available without regard to what a person might do with it. Thus, your comment, “These all ‘introduce’ us to Christ, the good news of the Kingdom of God, and the way of salvation.” The gospel introduces the person to Christ and invites the person to come to an initiation and this cannot happen without a decision by the person to accept the invitation. So, you have God taking the initiative in a general sense to make salvation available to all but the person must decide (or take the initiate(?)) to accept that invitation. Each party to salvation initiates his part with neither part being able to complete the deal by itself. What is the role of the Holy Spirit in this process?

  4. Thanks Eric and Jenai. This is excellent. This is the absolute core and primary issue that begins one down one or the other soteriological paths. Everything else builds on this concept. I have spoken to many who consider themselves outwardly a Calvinist or partially Calvinist but when we talk a bit they open up that they have serious concerns about much of what Calvinism teaches, but they feel they have to consider it because they have first bought into Total Inability because they’ve never been exposed to good teaching that proves out that TI is not a biblical concept.and that if one rejects TI they are not “man-centered” or believing in “human initiation.” So once they buy into TI, they have to buy into either Calvinism or Arminianism as the answer to TI. I love to give them the “good news” that they aren’t stuck with those two alternatives, there is another way that is much more in line with scripture, is coherent, and begins and ends with God, not man.

    Great article and another good resource. .

    1. andyb2015 writes, ” So once they buy into TI, they have to buy into either Calvinism or Arminianism as the answer to TI.”

      No, they have to buy into God’s active involvement in the salvation of a person – through drawing, conviction of sin, etc., and thereby buy into TI. If one were to deny such involvement by God, he would outright buy into a Pelagian system.

      1. The above article is entirely about God’s active involvement in initiating both effectual salvation as well as His active role in drawing all through Christ’s death and ressurection and the Holy Spirit convicting the world of sin and initiating the offer of salvation by sending/revealing Christ, etc.

        But nothing in that would logically imply or mandate belief in Total Inability. Faith is not equivalent to salvation, nor does it merit salvation of itself, nor does it accomplish salvation of itself, nor would man even have thought to trust or need a Savior without God’s plans and provisions. It is God’s gracious choice to grant salvation to those who believe in His promise, not man’s idea or meritorious work.

      2. Jenai,
        You have done well. It is understandable, concise, and biblical. There will be some who “do not choose” to believe it (get it?) but of course life is full of choices….and what we think does make a difference.

        Now, you can expect from JTL some long repetition of “what must be” just….well just because he says it over and over.

        From RH you can expect name-calling: Universalist, proponent of works-salvation, synergist, or ….. even being a semi- or full Polynesian!

        Perhaps sprinkled into the responses will be the same 5-10 verses we hear over and over (“Yes, because you have never responded to these verse!”).

        So….stay the course and keep putting out material that others can read that will help them decide which position to follow…. cuz in the end, either we are “determined” to hold the positions we hold, or we choose them!

      3. FOH writes:
        “So….stay the course and keep putting out material that others can read that will help them decide which position to follow…. cuz in the end, either we are “determined” to hold the positions we hold, or we choose them!”

        So why do those who assert that all things are determined choose to even participate on this blog, or in any conversation concerning the topic? In all seriousness, if no one has a choice, and God’s chosen will unavoidably be regenerated, why don’t they just, pardon my frankness, shut up and go away? They have absolutely nothing to gain, and it would seem that they enjoy rubbing it in the poor damned men’s faces that they are not one of the lucky chosen few.

        It makes sense for those who perceive a choice to be made to reason and discuss the things of salvation with unbelievers. They have an offer that such men desperately need, however much they may not know it. Calvinists can only crow about what great luck they have to be one of the elect.

        The rest of us, who once did not believe, but made a voluntary choice to believe in and receive the astounding, undeserved love and mercy of God will most assuredly recall making that choice. We speak out because we long for all men to know and believe in this God who is lovingly, graciously, mercifully calling all men to himself.

        What brutes we would be to speak of this great gift if it was not genuinely offered to others. Even the child with basic good manners knows not to speak of a birthday party in front of those not invited. Yet Calvinists declare with glee, ‘Only we have been chosen. You all are going to hell. God’s name be praised.’ One can see why non-believers who perceive Calvinism as Christianity hate it. In actuality they hate Calvinism, not the true gospel of salvation.

      4. TS00,
        Exactly.

        And I have share several places on this blog that my nephew is one such hater.

        In his later years of high school, when he was a leader in the youth group, the church called a newly-minted YRR, Calvinist as youth leader.

        He pounded in “The Doctrines of Grace” so hard that my nephew (who is now PhD level brilliant) just did the math and now “hates the Gospel.” Such grace!

      5. TSOO I appreciate you taking this seriously & speaking up just as I respect all those on this blog. Even though I never bought into calvinism nor arminianism to me they were simply titles assigned to camps that seemed against one another. I appreciate the historical information, because it brings things into a little more clarity for me. I also love the analogies given, & the knowledge you all have of this subject and the willingness to talk about it. For me the big one is others are hearing about God in a wrong light and I view this site as a defense of God’s Holy character not that He needs us to defend Him, but also an opportunity to refute those who say; “this is what God says, because I said so or they said so” This site says Really line your systematic up with the only thing that really matters His Word & connect the time period to the text. I know I’ve heard (I think Br.d told me🤔) calvinists aren’t even certain they’re elect/ chosen. I was unaware of that aspect until coming to this site. Ugh really sad to me & the times I’ve questioned whether God loves me or not has not been during really hard times, but rather believing there was a slight possibility He was a calvinist God☹ so I’ve despised this systematic for awhile!! So please keep sounding the alarm even if you think they’re not listening!!! Your planting seeds🌻

        Jude 1:23 NASB — save others, snatching them out of the fire; and on some have mercy with fear, hating even the garment polluted by the flesh.

      6. I despise Calvinism for the same reasons that atheists do. Only more so, because of the dishonor it casts upon God and the stumblingblock it puts in front of those who might otherwise respond to the true message of freely offered grace.

      7. Jenai Rothnie writes, “The above article is entirely about God’s active involvement in initiating both effectual salvation…But nothing in that would logically imply or mandate belief in Total Inability.”

        Total Inability, and the Scriptures cited to demonstrate that position, was not argued. I think the goal of the article was to show that the lost are able to cooperate with God in their salvation – God provides the means – or grace (death of Christ, conviction of sin, etc) and the lost person provides the faith (maybe only the will) to believe.

      8. Jenai:
        It is a curious thing the Calvinists’ drum-beating for Total Depravity (Total Inability).

        They feel that they provide “verses” for this position, but there are actually whole-chapter stories that cover the topic well.

        The most spectacular event in the OT and the most cited/ recounted event in the Bible is Passover.

        God “did it all”. He provides the idea, the instructions, and the way of escape. Still they had to apply the blood in faith and stay in the house.

        Now…..when this story is repeated over and over in the Bible it always says something like “God rescued His people.” I mean never “they rescued themselves.” It would be silly to accuse them of rescuing themselves. They were slaves (like we were slaves to sin), and what’s more they had no Bibles, teachers, and for hundreds of years, no prophets.

        But obviously, with the kind of proof offered by miracles (just as Christ and Paul did that they might convince people, or bear witness) they had enough “ability” to respond in faith.

        Calvinist answer: God told them what to do and gave miracles to provide the witness…. but that was not enough. God had to give each of them the faith to put the blood on the door. It’s the Calvinist position. It’s just not in the Bible.

        But that doesnt stop them from saying it!

      9. ‘There is power, power, wonder working power’ . . . but only those who had the faith to apply the blood of the lamb by their own free choice received the promised salvation. God has supplied the blood of the once-for-all Lamb, but it’s power of salvation will only be received by those who believe in it, thereby applying it – through faith – by their own free choice.

      10. TS00,
        Not only is there power in the blood…there is power in the Gospel.

        Paul knew better:

        Rom 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. 17 For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed….

        The Gospel (preached Word) has the power and is the “righteousness of God revealed”.

        God reveals His plan in the Gospel….then men believe it or not.

        The blood has the power to save if applied.

        The Gospel has the power to save if believed.

      11. You make a good point. It is likely I would now reject the theology in that old hymn, as I do so many. The power is not in the blood, as if it is some kind of magic. The power comes from believing and receiving the promise of God. Were the power in the blood, no man would need to believe – all would be automatically forgiven of sin.

        Which once again demonstrates that the Calvinist and Universalist believe in the same deterministic fate; they only differ in how far its application goes. The genuine gospel message of salvation is that salvation rests solely upon our faith in the atonement has been accomplished, by God alone, with no contribution from man. Were the power in ‘the work’, i.e., the blood, all would be saved. The power to receive new life comes as a result of our believing in the promised salvation of God and desiring it above all else. This is a faith that results in changed lives.

      12. TS00,
        We have made this point before. Calvinists and Universalists are twin brothers. One is just taller than the other.

        Both agree that God, ex cathedra, with no hint whatsoever of participation, agreement, or free-will of man decides people’s fate.

        Universalists declare that He decides that all will be saved and none damned. Calvinists declare that He decides that a few will be saved and most damned. The difference is only in the number.

        Again, If God had wanted to create a world where either of those is correct, He could have. The Bible does not seem to say that He did.

      13. FOH writes:
        “The Bible does not seem to say that He did.”

        You, of course, are understating the situation, as a very good case can and has been made that the bible sets forth a far different story, again and again, than one of Divine Determinism. 😉

      14. TS00 writes, “Which once again demonstrates that the Calvinist and Universalist believe in the same deterministic fate; they only differ in how far its application goes. ”

        Yes. The Calvinist says God saves some but not all; the Universalist says God saves all.

      15. And the biblicist says God desires to save all, and freely offers to do so – but the choice is left to each individual, thus some will refuse.

      16. FOH quotes Romans, “because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.”

        So not to everyone but only those who believe. These are those first given to Christ by God who thereby come to believe. The focus here is not on individuals but on Jews and gentiles. Thus, the gospel in the power of God that brings salvation to Jews and non-Jews, a theme that Paul develops later in Romans.

    2. I find it very troubling that ‘scare tactics’ are often used to quell free discussion in various controversial topics. One side (or multiple sides) will in a sense ‘frighten’ those just beginning to study a topic by claiming that to believe another side’s view would be equivalent to being a heretic, or a cult, or stupid, disbelieving Christ, arrogant, etc. One can expect that sort of bludgeoning of character or intellect or spirituality, vs. relying on scripture and reason to persuade others of a view, out in the secular world – but it is still sad to see within the church.

  5. Jenai, thanks for sharing. Your points are clear and logical. Don’t expect rhutchin to admit that, however. He is committed to his belief system, and no amount of clear, consistent, logical evidence is going to have any effect. The logical fallacies of Calvinism have been shown and discounted by many, going back hundreds of years. Calvinism’s only strategy at this point is to ignore sound arguments and play word games to avoid acknowledging logical and scriptural inconsistencies.

  6. God is the initiator of Salvation. God must do it for the reason that man cannot do it for themselves. What’s the reason why they cannot do it for themselves? The answer is that the fallen man, has been spiritually dead and has been separated from a holy God due to sin. God the Father’s drawing sinners to come to the Son and the quickening of the Holy Spirit to the reprobates are just one of the means of God’s initiatives to effectually reach out to the fallen man.

    Non-Calvinists maintains that man though dead in sin still posses moral ascendancy to come back to God on their own using their native faith. If they can do it for themselves using their native faith, then man becomes the initiator of his salvation. He doesn’t need to be rescued by God anymore. He can go out of the pit on his own.

    Calvinists maintains that God is the one who gives faith after the fallen man has been made alive spiritually. God’s initiative to change the previous condition into spiritually alive condition is an evidence of God’s initiative in offering salvation to the legitimate beneficiaries.

    1. “God is the initiator of Salvation. God must do it for the reason that man cannot do it for themselves.”

      Agreed.

      “What’s the reason why they cannot do it for themselves? The answer is that the fallen man, has been spiritually dead and has been separated from a holy God due to sin.”

      The grammar is a little odd – fallen man IS spiritually dead and separated from God, not ‘has been’ – but otherwise agreed. This spiritual death, as I have detailed under other topics, refers to man being under the penalty of death due to being lawbreakers, and being a slave to sin/seeking the cravings of the flesh so unable to be morally perfect. And since it only takes one sin to be a lawbreaker, all fall short of the glory of God.

      ” God the Father’s drawing sinners to come to the Son” – This happens to all due to Christ’s death and Resurrection (Jn 12:32), which is indeed one way God initiates the general opportunity for salvation to all mankind.

      “The quickening of the Holy Spirit to the reprobate” – This is never described, implied, or mandated in scripture, as something that happens to a reprobate prior to repentance and faith. Only believers are quickened by the Spirit and receive new life, as it is through identifying with Christ’s death and God raising them up that God makes the believer born again. And Christ makes the believer *literally* born again with a new body at the Resurrection. (Rom 6, I Cor 15, Rom 7, I Pet 1, Titus 3, etc.)

      “are just one of the means of God’s initiatives to effectually reach out to the fallen man” – You seem to be treating ‘drawing’ and ‘quickening by the Spirit’ as the same concept by uniting them into one concept. But scripture treats them very differently. The “draw all things to Myself” Christ did by being lifted up, as Moses lifted the snake up in the wilderness as God offered healing to all those who would look at it. But quickening, making alive, only happens to the believer when the unite in the death of Christ (so the ‘law’ treats the believer as dead, hence no penalty, so the believer ‘dies to the law’ that bound him, etc.) and God raises the believer to new life and grants the indwelling Holy Spirit. Only then can the believer walk by the Spirit and understand and seek spiritual things.

      “Non-Calvinists maintains that man though dead in sin still posses moral ascendancy to come back to God on their own using their native faith.”

      This is a strange and illogical assailment you entail non-Calvinist’s with. No Christian believes man can “come back to God on their own” – at the very heart of Christian orthodoxy is the belief that Christ alone is the way to be reconciled to the Father. No one believes humans have the “power” to save themselves or reach God on their own.

      Ascendency is dominance or controlling influence. Why would believing that man could trust the gospel message when presented with it; the gospel being all about the revelation of the Messiah to man, Christ’s perfect work done on man’s behalf, etc.; give fallen man some form of moral dominance over God?

      Do you believe a drowning man accepting a thrown lifebuoy gains physical dominance over the one graciously pulling him in? Do you believe a poor man cashing a check received from a rich neighbor is showing monetary controlling influence over the rich man by cashing a check? Do you believe accepting a birthday gift gives you moral superiority over the giver? Of course not!

      Receiving Christ by believing in His name and work doesn’t give a person moral dominance or influence of God. It doesn’t even of itself give the right/power/authority to be reconciled to God or adopted by God or saved, etc. It is God’s choice to grant salvation to those who believe. The power and authority stem from God, not man.

      Indeed, a large part of repentance and faith is the recognition that God has the moral ascendancy over us, and that we are subject to judgement in our current state, and so we need a Savior, and that God graciously sent us one who did indeed have the power to accomplish what He claimed to!

      “Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” Jn 1:12-13

      Receiving (aggressively taking/accepting what is offered) is the same concept as ‘believing in His name’ – faith. What gives them the right/power/authority to be children? The faith? NO! God gives the right to those with faith. [You seem, again, to be treating faith as some salvific force or merit that forces God’s hand in and of itself.]

      How are these believers then born as new children of God? Of their own power and will? By two parents having intercourse? By the believer deciding ‘hey I’m gonna be adopted now, poof?’ No! Of God’s power and will, as detailed above. Through baptism the believer unites with the death of Christ and God raises the believer to new life and grants the indwelling Spirit. Now that the believer has the Holy Spirit, the believer is an adopted child of God via the regeneration God gave.

      ” If they can do it for themselves using their native faith, then man becomes the initiator of his salvation.”

      They can’t do it themselves ‘using faith.’ God *grants* salvation to those with faith, graciously.

      I am not even sure how to make sense of your thoughts here. Imagine a ditch-digger is about to die in a mudslide that is coming, but a man on horseback shows himself, warns the man he has mere minutes, reaches down, and offers to help him out. The man in the ditch clasped the offered hand and is lifted out.

      There is only one thing the man in the ditch could be said to initiate: clasping the offered hand/agreeing to be helped. Did that make him the initiator of the offer? No, he only returned the grasp of a hand offered to him first. Did accepting rescue initiate the rescue? Of course not – the offer had already been made, and the effectual rescue happened (was initiated) when the rescuer started pulling up. Simple logic shows that. If the would-be-rescuer chose not to pull him out instead of making good on his promise to rescue, then the man in the ditch could clasp hands all he wanted – nothing would happen. And without the deliverer revealing himself and offering rescue, the man in the ditch would not have even known his danger, let alone had the opportunity to be saved from it.

      “He doesn’t need to be rescued by God anymore. He can go out of the pit on his own.” Again, does clasping the hand of the rescuer now make the man in the ditch able to climb out of the ditch on his own? Of course not!! The one pulling the man out of the ditch/pit is God. Faith/trust that God can do so doesn’t magically confer pit-escaping power on a person.

      “Calvinists maintains that God is the one who gives faith after the fallen man has been made alive spiritually.”

      Which is one reason many of us find it unscriptural, since scripture shows God giving new life in the Spirit to those who believe, not somehow making them alive then giving them faith. It’s also illogical, since there is no reason someone spiritually alive would need to die with Christ and receive new life if they had already passed from death to life.

      “God’s initiative to change the previous condition into spiritually alive condition is an evidence of God’s initiative in offering salvation to the legitimate beneficiaries.”

      No. God’s initiative in offering to change the condition of all men (gospel) and God effectually changing the spiritual condition of the believer is an evidence of God’s initiative in both the offer of salvation to all mankind and God’s initiative (and indeed full accomplishment) of the effectual granting of salvation to the legitimate beneficiaries of the New Covenant; those that believe.

      1. Jenai Writes : “There is only one thing the man in the ditch could be said to initiate: clasping the offered hand/agreeing to be helped. Did that make him the initiator of the offer? No, he only returned the grasp of a hand offered to him first. Did accepting rescue initiate the rescue? Of course not – the offer had already been made, and the effectual rescue happened (was initiated) when the rescuer started pulling up. Simple logic shows that. If the would-be-rescuer chose not to pull him out instead of making good on his promise to rescue, then the man in the ditch could clasp hands all he wanted – nothing would happen. And without the deliverer revealing himself and offering rescue, the man in the ditch would not have even known his danger, let alone had the opportunity to be saved from it.”

        “He doesn’t need to be rescued by God anymore. He can go out of the pit on his own.” Again, does clasping the hand of the rescuer now make the man in the ditch able to climb out of the ditch on his own? Of course not!! The one pulling the man out of the ditch/pit is God. Faith/trust that God can do so doesn’t magically confer pit-escaping power on a person.”
        ——My Response——

        1. Jenai, how can that man be able to clasp his hand to the offer when he is spiritually disabled? we are talking here of spiritual matter, i.e “spiritual rebirth” is totally beyond man’s capability as you agreed above. The fallen man being disconnected to God is dead, and disabled by sin. They are blind and they cannot unblind themselves. He can only react if his dead spirit is given life.

        2. Agreed… God is the one deciding and pulling the rope to raise up the man….. and Jenai, God may do it only for those whom He gives life. Why give life to those whom he will not pull up the rope, I mean to those whom He knows beforehand that will not believe in the Son ?

        3. You said: “…since there is no reason someone spiritually alive would need to die with Christ and receive new life if they had already passed from death to life.” —— [Dying with Christ here has something to do with the doctrine of Sanctification. It does not refer to the event of making the dead spirit into spiritually alive. No one is automatically born spiritually alive upon physical birth.]

        4. You said : “No. God’s initiative in offering to change the condition of all men (gospel) and God effectually changing the spiritual condition of the believer is an evidence of God’s initiative in both the offer of salvation to all mankind and God’s initiative (and indeed full accomplishment) of the effectual granting of salvation to the legitimate beneficiaries of the New Covenant; those that believe.”

        But… Jenai … if your idea is denied by the 4 types of soil. Only the good soil has been changed by God into good by the time the seed fell on them. The other types of soil remained unchanged thus all of them failed. I believe that the Word of God alone is effective, “two edged sword”, but in the case of the 4 types of soil it does not work to the rest of of the types soil. It will only work to the legitimate beneficiaries as what you have quoted.

      2. JT,
        Woah there you go breaking a fundamental rule of exegesis.

        “But… Jenai … if your idea is denied by the 4 types of soil. Only the good soil has been changed by God into good by the time the seed fell on them. ”

        Where did you get the idea that the soil is changed by anyone? There is no mention of that in the parable or in the explanation by Christ. You are just showing your bias to “read into” a passage what you want it to say.

        Not a good idea, friend.

  7. Wonderful article JENAI!

    Very clear and precise and logically laid out!
    You provided an excellent argument to show that the presumption of Total Inability is unnecessary for Biblical coherence.
    Sincere thanks!

    Of course the other conundrum Calvinists are faced with concerning Total Depravity is – since Calvin teaches that no man knows who the elect are – it follows no Calvinist has any certainly of his own election. They may in fact be TOTALLY DEPRAVED.

    Additionally – Calvin teaches that for a -quote “LARGE MIXTURE” in the Calvinist fold – Calvin’s god holds out salvation as a -quote “Scepter of greater condemnation” . For a temporary period (we assume while living) he deceives these Calvinists into believing they are saved. And then at some point he will – quote “strike them with greater blindness”.

    So it logically follows that a LARGE MIXTURE of Calvinists are TOTALLY DEPRAVED according to Calvin.
    And Calvinists thus have absolutely no discernment to know whether they are TOTALLY DEPRAVED or not.

    1. The necessity in Calvinism of believing some are deceived by God into believing they are saved (for His greater glory, or whatever excuse is used) is one of it’s strangest ironies, considering that many Calvinists believe and teach that in ‘other views’ man can never be assured of salvation and so only Calvinism brings piece of mind.

      Yet the reality is quite opposite. The view that faith is required for God to grant salvation may, and should, lead to self-examination, but it does not lead to anxiety. (II Cor 13:5, Col 1:22-23, II Pet 1:3-11, etc.)

      But if someone clings to the idea that salvation truly rests in a choice of God apart from faith, so a person never really knows if their current belief is just a deceptive belief or partial belief that might be removed from them someday could glean no assurance from scripture of their personal salvation nor assurance that they are truly among the elect. Rather than hoping in Christ and thus holding the assurance that one is among the saved and elect, they would be hoping that they turn out to be among the elect (and thus hoping they are among those special few given true enduring faith.) To me, that would seem a far more shaky and anxious state, since even if I believed that God would preserve His elect I would have no guarantee that I was among them vs. among those deceived into thinking they are among them.

      I have never had cause to doubt my salvation, even through my darkest times of struggle with sin or being temporarily angry at God, etc. as I have faith in Christ. Yet I’ve been told by many Calvinists that I must necessarily struggle with anxiety and doubts and not know if I am truly saved or will be saved tomorrow, etc. [And I’ve been told by at least half a dozen of them that I’m not really saved at all since I do not ascribe to the points of T.U.L.I.P., as if that was a superior mark of knowing whether one was saved than simply trusting God in faith.]

      1. Well said Jenai

        Concerning the psychology of Calvinists – over the years I have observed it.
        And it becomes clear that the psychological burden imposed on them requires the mind to compartmentalize into what I call *AS-IF* thinking patterns.

        [X] is true *AS-IF* false
        or
        [X] is false *AS-IF* true

        This burden is put upon them by virtue of embracing determinism.

        To deal with it – Calvin instructed his disciples to -quote “Go about your office AS-IF nothing is determined in any part”.

        No one can live out this type of belief system with rational coherence. Every determinist who believes he has no degree of autonomy has to live AS-IF he does. Every determinist has to at some level make-believe he can think for himself.

        Every determinist has to at some level make-believe when he approaches a fork in the garden path; the ability to go in either direction is truly available to him. Even though determinism stipulates one single predestined future for every event.

        Every determinist Christian has to (at some level) make-believe that when God commanded Adam not to eat the forbidden fruit, God in fact made choosing obedience an available option to Adam – and not simply present it as an illusion that didn’t really exist, because whatever is not rendered-certain does not exist.

        The Calvinist who is a purist rejects “mere” permission as it pertains to the divine will.
        He rejects any degree of creaturely autonomy
        And he rejects divine foreknowledge via observation.

        But they can’t actually live without these things – because they see them as part of the pattern weaved throughout the language of scripture.

        So they use subtle language tricks to SNEAK in camouflaged form – these things back into their system.
        This behavior pattern becomes a red-flag that they internally recognize things are wrong with their system.
        But yet unable to be honest with themselves and admit it.
        And I suspect that is probably due to spiritual pride.

    2. br.d writes, “it follows no Calvinist has any certainly of his own election.”

      Of course he can simply in the work God is doing within him to remove the works of the flesh and instill the work of the Spirit, increasing his desire for the word, to know it and understand it, an increasing dependence on God’s word, being at peace with God and not his enemy, and many other affects of God’s working in him that would have been present had God not saved him. Any believer knows what he was, what he is, and where God is taking him.

      1. br.d writes,
        “it follows no Calvinist has any certainly of his own election.”

        rhutchin writes:
        “Of course he can simply in the work God is doing within him to remove the works of the flesh and instill the work of the Spirit, increasing his desire for the word, to know it and understand it, an increasing dependence on God’s word, being at peace with God and not his enemy, and many other affects of God’s working in him that would have been present had God not saved him. Any believer knows what he was, what he is, and where God is taking him.”

        Alas, there are many who at one time had such assurance, and all the appearance of being an elect child of God, only to fall away, proving – according to Calvinism – that they never were. Calvin has some gross explanations of how God does this deliberately, presumably for some sort of cruel thrill. As Calvin put it:

        “ . . . though none are enlightened into faith, and truly feel the efficacy of the Gospel, with the exception of those who are fore-ordained to salvation, yet experience shows that the reprobate are sometimes affected in a way so similar to the elect, that even in their own judgment there is no difference between them. Hence it is not strange, that by the Apostle a taste of heavenly gifts, and by Christ himself a temporary faith, is ascribed to them. Not that they truly perceive the power of spiritual grace and the sure light of faith; but the Lord, the better to convict them, and leave them without excuse, instills into their minds such a sense of his goodness as can be felt without the Spirit of adoption . . .

        We may add, that the reprobate never have any other than a confused sense of grace, laying hold of the shadow rather than the substance, because the Spirit properly seals the forgiveness of sins in the elect only, applying it by special faith to their use. Still it is correctly said, that the reprobate believe God to be propitious to them, inasmuch as they accept the gift of reconciliation, though confusedly and without due discernment; not that they are partakers of the same faith or regeneration with the children of God; but because, under a covering of hypocrisy, they seem to have a principle of faith in common with them. Nor do I even deny that God illumines their minds to this extent, that they recognize his grace; but that conviction he distinguishes from the peculiar testimony which he gives to his elect in this respect, that the reprobate never attain to the full result or to fruition. When he shows himself propitious to them, it is not as if he had truly rescued them from death, and taken them under his protection. He only gives them a manifestation of his present mercy.285 In the elect alone he implants the living root of faith, so that they persevere even to the end. Thus we dispose of the objection, that if God truly displays his grace, it must endure for ever. There is nothing inconsistent in this with the fact of his enlightening some with a present sense of grace, which afterwards proves evanescent.“

        So, you may have true assurance, or you may just have ‘a confused sense of grace’ or evanescent grace; who knows?

      2. TS00, Rhutchin,

        I had a friend who was one of the leaders of a Bible Study. He was a Calvinist in soteriology, but a humble one who chose to be the support rather than the teacher. He even helped lead a three hour ‘can of worms’ discussion where the class debated Calvinism and we had a decently amiable time plastering a large white board with verses, and this discussion included preservation of the saints and the argument (from him and others) that only Calvinism offered true assurance of salvation, while others must necessarily be unsure. Over the years his spiritual growth in various areas was obvious, and if someone was down he was the first to come alongside to encourage. He seemed to have a deep and growing relationship with Christ, and he was very involved in worship. At some point, he decided to become a missionary. Great so far, right? Only he took the Perspectives course, and for whatever reason decided that Christianity was not defensible. So he publicly held an event and announced a bit later that he was no longer a Christian – and it was pretty obvious, to, as he no longer had that gift of encouragement and was now oblivious to the needs around him and far more consumed with self than I had ever seen him prior. I’ve only seen him a few times since, where he was now doubtful and, oddly enough, considering becoming Catholic because he found the thought of the rituals and history attractive.

        Now, one could debate endlessly about what it all means. Was he a believer who gave up when the world got tough, like seeds on rocky soil? Was he never a Christian to begin with, and just pretending to us all? Was he only intellectually a Christian but never had a relationship with Christ? Was he one of Calvin’s reprobates that merely had a ‘confused sense of grace?’ Etc.

        The point is, however, that his Calvinism – even his belief that he personally was assured of salvation and that God would keep him to the end, wasn’t enough to actually keep him in the faith. He claimed he felt assurance, but it was a false assurance – whether one views that as him being a deceived unbeliever or a temporary believer who failed to endure to the end in faith.

        So how does Calvinism give a better or more secure assurance than the assurance that comes from simply believing that as long as one has faith, he is saved?

        Which is all a different topic, I suppose, but a very interesting one.

      3. JR: “So how does Calvinism give a better or more secure assurance than the assurance that comes from simply believing that as long as one has faith, he is saved?”

        Calvinism does not provide assurance of salvation. The Scriptures provide that assurance (i.e., faith) Calvinism is a body of knowledge that helps one understand the Scriptures. When one studies the Scripture and arrives at the same conclusions as Calvinism teaches, he essentially becomes a Calvinist. If one believes in Calvinism without studying the Scriptures to see if the Scriptures support that which Calvinism says, he is on shaky ground. That could have been your friend’s problem – he understood Calvinism; he did not understand how the Scriptures support Calvinism concepts.

      4. Jeani
        So how does Calvinism give a better or more secure assurance than the assurance that comes from simply believing that as long as one has faith, he is saved?”

        rhutchin
        Calvinism does not provide assurance of salvation. The Scriptures provide that assurance…etc

        br.d
        Jeani – do we see how rhutchin evades the question.

        The TRUTH:
        In Calvinism no man knows who the “elect” are because that is SECRET
        And that is “supposedly” derived from scripture.

        So the answer is – any assurance of salvation one derives from scripture – Calvinism removes.

        In the context of DARK truths – Calvinists are taught a form of altruistic dishonesty.

        Calvin’s god designs the MANY for eternal torment in the lake of fire.
        And thus the MANY of the population of every Calvinist fold.

        Calvin himself called the Calvinist fold a -quote LARGE MIXTURE of those who are deceived by Calvin’s god into a false salvation in order to magnify their torments in the lake of fire.

        But each Calvinist (in regard to his personal self) is taught to AUTO-MAGICALLY assume he is a part of the FEW
        While he questions the salvation of everyone else.

        And they call that :”doctrines of grace” ! :-]

      5. I have noticed a unique and tragic event within Calvinist circles. I have been in evangelical circles my entire life, and I have seen people fall away or ‘backslide’ as it used to be called. But never have I witnessed, outside of Calvinism, the tragic crisis of faith that leads a person, in the strength of their walk with God, deliberately decide to reject him, based on what they have come to believe is true.

        This is one of the reasons I believe it is important to testify to my own experience, and encourage others who may be under the thrall of Calvinism without fully understanding its necessary assertions. Most decent folk will not continue to embrace a God who deliberately curses men with an inability to not sin, brings evil into existence, punishes people for sins he ordained them to do, etc. Thus, when they become brainwashed and convinced that the things Calvinism asserts are true, many turn from faith in such a monstrous god.

        My desire is to assure people that these assertions are false, and do not represent the living God, who is the epitome of love, mercy, kindness and justice. If your picture of God is appalling, you have been given a false portrait.

      6. TS00,
        I have also shared here several times the story of my nephew.

        Raised in a Baptist home, later baptized, and later the youth-age leader of the youth group. When the new youth pastor came he (the pastor) share early and often about his new-found treasure, the “Doctrines of Grace.” Turmoil in the youth group and in my nephew. His parents told him it was not true but the newly-minted YRR pastor insisted it was.

        In that case, my nephew found God utterly un-gracious (ironically), fickle, untrustworthy, and very much not like the Jesus everyone talked about. He has been an agnostic for 17 years.

      7. This reminds me of the debate between William Lane Craig and a leading Atheist who asserted that Christianity has no answer for the its god being the “Author of evil”.

        During that debate, Dr. Craig pressed him to explain – what he ended up describing was in fact Calvinism.

        Dr. Craig was able to easily defeat his argument by showing that Calvinism is a minor view in Christianity – and the Atheist had erroneously assumed otherwise.

        But you can see how this relates to TS00’s point – and how a Calvinist can reject the god he believes exists.

      8. Wonderful post TS00!

        Out of John Calvin’s own mouth – Calvin’s god deceives Calvinists in to believing they are saved.
        And with that – it follows not one Calvinist can have any spiritual discernment.
        False hope – false salvation.

        It logically follows – according to his own doctrine – the probability the Calvinist you are talking to – is TOTALLY DEPRAVED, :-]

      9. br.d
        it follows no Calvinist has any certainly of his own election.”

        rhutchin
        Of course he can simply in the work God is doing within him to remove the works of the flesh and instill the work of the Spirit..etc

        br.d
        And yet he has no certainty of the “work Calvin’s god” has in mind for him.

        As John Calvin teaches – Calvin’s god could simply be deceiving him into believing he is saved .
        Holding out salvation to him as a -quote “scepter of greater condemnation”.
        And then at some point later to -quote “strike him with greater blindness”.

        Thus the Calvinist has zero spiritual discernment of who is saved and who is not.

  8. Yes God is the initiator I agree this is another great article/resource to help formulate questions to engage others who cling to this notion that a noncalvinist/nonarminian are by default a pelagian this is absolutely a self righteous tactic!!! Fear of man will prove to be a snare!!!

    This is clear;
    “A fallen human hearing the gospel message about the Savior and subsequently turning in repentance and faith to Christ in no way makes that human the initiator of salvation. It is a logically absurdity, a contradiction in terms; the initiate cannot be considered the initiator.”

    “1: To cause or facilitate the beginning of: set going, such as to initiate a program”

    I think the programmer analogy is great He is the programmer He is the initiator, but He is MUCH GREATER than an actually computer program therefore He doesn’t manipulate this invitation to be excepted by a select few He irresistibly programmed & to presume that He does would require one to conclude; He isn’t that amazing, but rather a manipulator of the program He set in motion. There is nothing meritorious about being completely broken & crying out to something that at the time was a hopeful notion that God enen existed or another’s conversion maybe was 6ft 290lb man (worldly images) with a child like faith!!! If you conclude “total inability” then you leave out responsibility to His clear revelation within creation etc.. and His appeal to the Gospel message itself.

    Galatians 5:6 NASB — For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but faith working through love.

  9. Yes, God is the initiator of the salvation. And God did take that initial step without anyone asking for it. Without God taking that initial step, we wouldn’t have been able to save ourselves. And God never stayed away from doing it. He gave us all the rational and emotional faculties to look at our experiences to come to the conclusion of what is right and wrong. He gave us the free will to choose right over the wrong. He gave us the Law and gospel. He gave His Spirit in abundance to all those who seek it to strengthen them to follow His commandments. The Bible says, ‘fear of God is the beginning of wisdom’. Once you believe in God, God gives us His wisdom and Spirit changes our hearts.

  10. In yesterday’s through-the Bible I came to 2 Samuel 9-11.

    11:26 When Uriah’s wife heard that her husband was dead, she mourned for him. 27 When the period of mourning was over, David sent for her and brought her to the palace, and she became one of his wives. Then she gave birth to a son. But the Lord was displeased with what David had done.
    ————-

    Now, according to the Determinist-Calvinism-Reformed position, every time we encounter one of the hundreds and hundreds of passages like this (“the Lord was displeased”) we are to understand:

    God decreed/ willed/ wanted/ desired/ ordained that David lust after Bathsheba, He decreed/ willed/ wanted/ desired/ ordained that David kill Uriah, and He decreed/ willed/ wanted/ desired/ ordained that he would be displeased with what David had done.

    This is not a straw man. This is Calvinism 101.

    Is that the message of the Bible?

    1. That is one of the many elements of Calvinism that are self-contradictory, as well as contradictory to the revealed character of God.

      God sets the standard, the “target” of righteousness. If God decrees for an individual man to do something, then that target would be righteous. If the person fails to hit that target, then the individual sins. (When God gave statutes and decrees to Moses for Israel to follow, that didn’t make the Israelites necessarily obey. They could still disobey, and often did. However, because the law was given, God was just in punishing those who disobeyed. The force of a decree of God is not in somehow constraining people to act according to it, but in the authority behind the decree to punish wrongdoing.)

      But in Calvinism, God can decree an individual to sin or that an individual not obey. This makes no sense – as whatever God decrees is the “target” and, by God’s own character, righteous. Sin is missing that target. If God were to decree that a specific individual sin or not obey, then that individual would be hitting the target God set by not obeying, and so wouldn’t be sinning, and so God couldn’t punish them, and we would end up with a God who is by nature unrighteous.

      Now, there are things God knows will happen. And there are events in history that God forordains will happen. But there is a difference between God’s sovereign plan of redemption, which included Jesus dying on the cross, and God decreeing for individuals to obey or not obey, to believe or not believe, etc. Calvinists such as John Piper treat these two concepts (sovereign plan and will of decree) as synonymous when they are very different. I completely agree that every point of God’s sovereign plan of redemption has come and will come to pass. This is why scripture refers to Christ as the lamb slain “from the foundation of the world” – God planned to send Christ as a redeemer for man from the beginning. That doesn’t imply or mandate that God must have decreed the fall of man, or decreed the individual sins of man, etc. as Piper seems to think they do. God didn’t have to decree Pilate hand Jesus over to the guards to be crucified to know that he would when the Jews threatened his position with Ceasar. God didn’t even have to decree that Judas betray Christ to know how Judas’ heart worked, and hence give Judas to Jesus as one of the Apostles so that scripture would be fulfilled.

      John Piper takes the revelation of God’s sovereign plan of redemption in scripture and incorrectly thinks that is synonymous with his theory that God “decrees” all things that happen, and indeed that God must necessarily end up both desiring some things to happen and willing them “not to happen” at the same time. John Piper tries to make the contradiction work by treating God as if He has a “Will of decree, which will necessarily come to pass” and a “Will of command, which does not necessarily come to pass.” Putting aside that decree and command are pretty much synonyms (a decree is basically a command with the force of law behind it,) this is a very strange way of imagining God. Though he claims that this doesn’t lead to a God divided against Himself, none of his explanations are satisfactory.

      He completely misses that God has levels of desire. Jesus desired to escape the cross, even sweat blood in the Garden of Gethsemane. But He had a greater desire to do the will of the Father, and looked forward to the “joy set before Him” so He could endure the cross. God decreeing that Christ die on the cross, then, was not God willing something by ‘decree’ that He did not want by ‘desire.’ God did desire Jesus to die for us.

      And this is not a contradiction of character. God created us in His image, and even humans will go through temporary suffering (toil, labor pain, physical therapy, etc.) for the sake of a greater desire (financial security, children, fitness, etc.) So why can’t God weigh desires? Why couldn’t Jesus endure the cross “for the joy set before Him?” And God, being all-wise, could weigh the benefits far more clearly than any human!

      So in scripture we see that God does have a Sovereign plan, which seems to be a mix of things He knows will occur plus things He deliberately steps in to History to influence or do. And we see that God is able to put a lesser desire aside for the sake of a greater desire (Jesus suffering something He would otherwise rather avoid for the ‘joy’ set before Him and the plan to redeem man; God not punishing the wicked immediately, even though it would give relief to the oppressed, for the sake of mercy and wanting all to come to repentance; God not rescuing believers from all trials, even though we are His children, as He knows adversity will build our faith; etc.) And we see people frequently disobeying the commands, decrees, orders, and revealed desires of God from old testament to knew, and placing themselves under judgement because of that.

      But the one thing we do not see is God decreeing that individuals must sin, or that some individuals must not obey, etc. If God were ever to do such a thing, it would damage His character AND remove His authority to judge, since no one can be lawfully punished for doing exactly what the sovereign decreed. The responsibility for their action would actually fall on the one who decreed the deed.

      1. Jenai,
        You have exposed Piper’s faulty thinking well. Thanks. We have done that in scores of places on this site.

        Were your post to be read by many Calvinists, I am sure they would quickly hit you with the “you are proposing the heresy of Open Theism” line.

        This is their typical line of attack: name calling (heresy, universalist, semi-Polynesian, works-based). Take no heed to that. They do not get to decide what is “heresy”. Just repeating it over and over does not make it so.

        I trust the Scriptures when they describe —in detail— God interacting personally with His creation. I do “need” Him to “be a certain way” because we “know a ‘real’ God has to be like that.”

        Nah….like I say, it aint a “personal relationship” if He has decreed every move we will ever make!

      2. JR: “But in Calvinism, God can decree an individual to sin or that an individual not obey.”

        That is because God is omnipotent and has ability to prevent any person engaging in sin. God’s decree not to prevent a person sinning is a decree that the person sin. The most notable examples being the death of Christ and of Stephen. This does not require that God be omniscient. God knows the thoughts of people in present time and could easily influence those thoughts, even preventing them.

        Then, “God planned to send Christ as a redeemer for man from the beginning. That doesn’t imply or mandate that God must have decreed the fall of man, or decreed the individual sins of man, etc. as Piper seems to think they do.”

        God must have decreed the fall of man as He had the power to prevent it but had chosen not to do so. Satan could not have entered the garden without God decreeing that he do so. God was present as Satan tempted Eve and as Even handed the fruit to Adam. God could have intervened to stop either Eve or Adam eating the fruit. God had made a decision not to do so. Thus, in Calvinist lingo, God decreed the fall.

        Then’ “…and indeed that God must necessarily end up both desiring some things to happen and willing them “not to happen” at the same time.”

        God decreed the law and then instructed (decreed) Israel to keep the law. That decree included the provision for Israel to deviate from the law if it wanted. Because God could have acted to ensure that Israel keep the law, God’s decision not to prevent Israel disobeying the law id by decree.

        Then, “Putting aside that decree and command are pretty much synonyms (a decree is basically a command with the force of law behind it,)”

        Under Calvinism, a decree is any decision made by God. As God knows all that happens, He necessarily decrees all that happens since He is the final arbiter of all that happens.

        Then, “So in scripture we see that God does have a Sovereign plan, which seems to be a mix of things He knows will occur [naturally without His influence] plus things He deliberately steps in to History to influence or do.”

        This is the Calvinist understanding. In each case, an event happens by God’s decree (or decision

        Then, “the one thing we do not see is God decreeing that individuals must sin, or that some individuals must not obey, etc.”

        That God decreed Adam’s descendants to inherit his corrupt nature (the Doctrine of Original Sin under which a person could not not-sin), and then decreed Adam’s descendants to act voluntarily according to that corrupt nature without interference form Him, was a decree that individuals must sin. As Paul said, “All have sinned.”

        Then, “The responsibility for their action would actually fall on the one who decreed the deed.”

        Only if the one decreeing the deed then had to coerce tat outcome against the will of those so decreed to sin.

      3. rhutchin
        That is because God is omnipotent and has ability to prevent any person engaging in sin. God’s decree not to prevent a person sinning is a decree that the person sin.

        br.d
        Divine prevention is non-problematic in a world with Libertarian Free will. But it is highly problematic in a world of determinism where every event is either RENDERED-CERTAIN and therefore cannot be prevented – or NOT-RENDERED-CERTAIN – and therefore not going to come to pass anyway.

        In the Calvinist version of divine prevention – Calvin’s god creates (i.e., causes) events for himself to prevent.
        He choreographs the whole puppet show! :-]

      4. God is omnipotent and technically capable of preventing anyone from engaging in sin. That He does not interfere (at least in any way we can perceive) in the majority of cases, however, is hardly a “decree” that they sin.

        “God’s decree not to prevent a person sinning is a decree that the person sin.”

        If I notice my three year old going over to sneak a cookie, but don’t immediately go over and tackle her to prevent the action, does that mean I in any way, shape, or form decreed that she steal a cookie? Of course not. She took the cookie, without permission. As her mom, I have the right to either overlook the incident, talk to her, punish her, etc. as I think best in response. Even though I have the knowledge she is likely about to commit a sin (in God’s case, He would know for sure whether she will give in to temptation or stop) and even though I didn’t stop her, that didn’t mean I decreed she do the act. And it is precisely because her act goes *against* my decree that she needs permission first, I can punish her if needed.

        Calvinists take it as an axiom, not a proven fact, that things can only occur if God “decrees” them to. Since they take this as a premise, and there being sin in the world is a premise, they conclude that God must decree that all sin occurs. Even a cursory examination of scripture (Jer 19:5, Jer 7:31) should show the flaw in this premise, but unfortunately it is clung to with fervor and used as the basis for further reasoning.

        God doesn’t have to “decree” Himself to prevent a person sinning. God can, and in many cases will, punish that person for the sin. They will be punished for violating God’s law of righteousness! Third, not interfering is not equivalent to mandating something or ensuring it occurs.

        That is because God is omnipotent and has ability to prevent any person engaging in sin. God’s decree not to prevent a person sinning is a decree that the person sin. The most notable examples being the death of Christ and of Stephen. This does not require that God be omniscient. God knows the thoughts of people in present time and could easily influence those thoughts, even preventing them.

        “God must have decreed the fall of man as He had the power to prevent it but had chosen not to do so.”

        Again, choosing not to stop something or interfere with something doesn’t mean one decreed for something to happen. God knew the fall would happen and planned for it, hence Jesus being set up as redeemer from the foundation of the world, and the implied promise of a redeemer even made to Eve in the garden. Simply insisting that a presupposition is true is not the same thing as proving it.

        “Satan could not have entered the garden without God decreeing that he do so.”

        Entering the garden wasn’t a sin for any of the animals. Entering the garden wasn’t a sin for Satan. God may have indeed decreed for Satan to enter the garden, but not for the reasons you give:

        “ ‘You were the seal of perfection,
        full of wisdom and perfect in beauty.
        You were in Eden,
        the garden of God;
        every precious stone adorned you:
        carnelian, chrysolite and emerald,
        topaz, onyx and jasper,
        lapis lazuli, turquoise and beryl.
        Your settings and mountings were made of gold;
        on the day you were created they were prepared.
        You were anointed as a guardian cherub,
        for so I ordained you.
        You were on the holy mount of God;
        you walked among the fiery stones.
        You were blameless in your ways
        from the day you were created
        till wickedness was found in you.” Ezek 28:12-15

        While this prophecy is overall for the King of Tyre, many see reference to Lucifer in it since the King of Tyre was obviously never perfect or in Eden. God, then, ordained Lucifer as a guardian cherub, possibly even over Eden. But is God decreeing a job for Lucifer and decreeing the ways Satan was to follow the same as decreeing that Lucifer must disobey?

        “God was present as Satan tempted Eve and as Even handed the fruit to Adam. God could have intervened to stop either Eve or Adam eating the fruit. God had made a decision not to do so. Thus, in Calvinist lingo, God decreed the fall.”

        Calvinist ‘lingo’ is the key here. There is no logical reason that “not intervening to stop” means “God decreed it happened!” Furthermore, God did intervene in His own way – by sending a redeemer, the last Adam, to bring life where Adam’s fall had brought death.

        We have no idea all the reasons that may go into God’s various decisions to interfere or not at any given time, but He is omniscient and all-wise. Imagine he *had* interfered and no one since ever disobeyed. We all would be able to sometimes talk to God and live in a perfect garden – but would we have the indwelling Holy Spirit? A personal relationship with Christ? A home in a future kingdom where we will dwell with God in our midst? Nope. Eden is Paradise compared to anything we have no on Earth, but the Tree of Life is only *part* of the far superior New Jerusalem.

        “God decreed the law and then instructed (decreed) Israel to keep the law. That decree included the provision for Israel to deviate from the law if it wanted. Because God could have acted to ensure that Israel keep the law, God’s decision not to prevent Israel disobeying the law id by decree.”

        This makes no sense. God could have acted to ensure Israel keep the law – but why? He made a *covenant* with Israel. It was up to them to continue to follow God to show their willingness to remain in the covenant and receive its blessings. If God somehow forced them or bound them over to obedience, it would not be real obedience. And then the “blessings” would just be doing nice things because God had made them do nice things. God wants a relationship with His people, not a set of dolls. And when Israel did disobey, they had no excuse like “but God decreed it by not stopping us!” – on the contrary, God would generally punish them or send them into captivity because they *broke* his laws and decrees, not because they followed His decrees.

        The New Covenant is even simpler. Since man can’t obey perfectly, all humans have to do is enter the Covenant by faith, trusting in Christ’s obedience and not their own works. If God were to force some to believe, it wouldn’t be real belief.

        “Under Calvinism, a decree is any decision made by God. As God knows all that happens, He necessarily decrees all that happens since He is the final arbiter of all that happens.”

        Yes, Calvinism redefines a lot of things. (Decree, sovereignty, etc.) But even if one takes decree to mean ‘decision made by God’ and not its typical meaning of an ‘authoritative order having the force of law’ that would not mean God “decides” sin must happen by not stopping it, let alone decides a sin must happen before time. While non-action can be seen as a type of decision, as in, “I will take no action at this time,” it wouldn’t make one the decider that the situation itself happened.

        For example, consider one of the variations of the Trolley Ethics problem. As a bystander, you see some people tied to the railroad tracks, presumably through no fault of their own. On one track, the one a trolley is coming towards, five people are standing who do not see the train. On another track you could switch the trolley over, only one person person is standing. The switch, which is on a middle track, is in your reach. No one is tied up there, but if you move the switch to the middle track you know that you will be unable to escape being hit by the train yourself. The ethical problem – do you sacrifice your own life; sacrifice the one to save the five; or do nothing?

        Now, people often claim that sacrificing the one to save the five is the best option on the view that to “not act” would somehow make one personally responsible for the death of the five. (Ironically, there is little crossover between people who answer the problem in this way and people who actually hold utilitarian ethics as a whole.) To people who answer in this way, ‘doing nothing’ is really the “decision to murder five people.” It doesn’t matter to them that the bystander is not responsible for people standing on train tracks who should presumably have been warned not to mill about on even inactive tracks; it doesn’t matter to them that actively pulling the switch would be the bystander, personally, taking an innocent life.

        The Calvinist thought is a lot like that. God not stopping adversity which comes from a broken world (man’s fault) or stopping people from sin (man’s fault) is treated as a “decision” by God that *what He chooses not to stop should happen* and hence hold the idea that God “decrees everything,” even murder, rape, starvation, etc. But why take this view? Why believe a decision of non-action, if you want to put it in those terms, must mean God chooses what is happening?

        Interestingly enough, the Trolley Problem does have a solution. The bystander *can* choose to sacrifice himself to save the others. But this is not a requirement. It’s noble, not required. (By extension, this informs the solution of the traditional two track problem: if one is not required to lay down their own life to save others, even if it is noble, one cannot legitimately “choose” for someone else to make a noble sacrifice to save more people. So the bystander must do nothing.)

        In the same way, God chose the “solution” of sending His own Son to die to win final victory over sin. Noble, not required. If the bystander does not turn the track onto the one, he is not personally responsible for the death of the five – he does not cause it, decree it, or choose it. In the same way, when God does not immediately interfere with sin and evil that doesn’t mean he decrees it must happen or chooses for it to happen or decrees it. What he “chooses” is the long term solution: the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, over the short term solutions of stopping evil immediately.

        What do you think is a more ideal solution? Stopping every single instance of sin and pain from the outset, knowing that will lead to man never realizing they even need a Savior since nothing ever goes wrong, and knowing that it will essentially lead to people being like inert rocks that only move as you push or allow; OR being grieved at the sin and pain you know will happen, so much so that you put a plan in place that over the long term will both eradicate sin and pain entirely and bring you into a loving relationship with countless adopted children who will freely choose good?

        Why does God opting for the second solution over the first mean he must “decree” the very pain and sin He is grieved over and plans to eliminate in the New Heavens and New Earth?

        “That God decreed Adam’s descendants to inherit his corrupt nature (the Doctrine of Original Sin under which a person could not not-sin), and then decreed Adam’s descendants to act voluntarily according to that corrupt nature without interference form Him, was a decree that individuals must sin.”

        The corrupt nature is due to Adam and Eve breaking God’s commandment and eating of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. God didn’t “decide” they would eat or that men would be corrupt; what He “decided” and warned them of was that the fruit of the tree would grant them the knowledge of good and evil. Future generations aren’t corrupt because God has to decreed we be corrupt (the curse for eating was toil and labor pain, not God making people corrupt,) we are all corrupt because we have the knowledge of good and evil. And where there is any knowledge of law, there is the temptation to sin (see Rom 7 for an example of that.) And breaking the law, we all end up under the penalty of death.

      5. JR: “If I notice my three year old going over to sneak a cookie, but don’t immediately go over and tackle her to prevent the action, does that mean I in any way, shape, or form decreed that she steal a cookie? Of course not.”

        Not so. It was you who placed the cookies in the first place (even as God placed the forbidden fruit in the garden); it was you who observed the actions of your daughter as she moved to take the cookies (even as God observed Eve and Adam moving to eat the fruit); it was you who effectively knew the desires of your child that explains why you set the cookies within her reach (even as God knew the desires of Eve and Adam); it was you who could easily have called to your child to distract her and point her in a different direction. You did all this without being God who knew Adam and Eve intimately more than you know your daughter. Given your position and ability to prevent your daughter eating the cookies, you decreed that she eat them through no coercive action on your part simply because you did nothing to stop her. How much more does God decree all things because He is infinitely greater than you.

        Then, you state, ” And it is precisely because her act goes *against* my decree that she needs permission first,…” By “…needs permission…” you mean that she had to ask you first. It also means that you had decided that she should be able to take cookies without asking you first (you sought to avoid this by explaining to her the consequences of such action). By those actions you decreed the final result. Obviously, we disagree that you decreed all this – especially, your child’s acting against your will. That’s fine. Give. me another word to describe what you did and we can use that word. In your mind, that word will not mean “decree” and in my mind it will. You understand this as you say, “Calvinists take it as an axiom, not a proven fact, that things can only occur if God “decrees” them to.” We have defined our point of disagreement and that disagreement affects the whole discussion between us.

        Jeremiah 31 (and Jeremiah 7) can be understood to say, ““Because they have forsaken Me,,,and have built the high places of Baal to burn their sons in the fire as burnt offerings to Baal, a thing which I never commanded or spoke of, nor did it ever enter My mind [to command or speak such things]:” There is nothing new to God. He knew that Israel would do these things before He created the world.

        Then, “Third, not interfering is not equivalent to mandating something or ensuring it occurs.”

        It is if you are God and have infinite power to do anything you want. You disagree saying, “choosing not to stop something or interfere with something doesn’t mean one decreed for something to happen.” We differ on that point.

        Then, “God knew the fall would happen and planned for it,”

        God did not just plan “for” it; He planned it. God put Adam in the garden and then placed the tree in the garden with instructions not to eat it. God protected Adam and Eve from Satan until He removed that protection giving Satan freedom to enter the garden and tempt Eve. God observed every second of the temptation including Eve eating the fruit and giving the fruit to Adam who also ate. God did not intervene to stop Adam’s sin even though He could have done so. God knew al that would happen before He created Adam. All that happened was according to God’s plan as God had already decided that Christ would be slain. Everything that happened from the creation onward was known to God because it was according to His plan.

        Then, “God may have indeed decreed for Satan to enter the garden, but not for the reasons you give:”

        God knew exactly what Satan would do if given freedom to enter the garden and it was for this purpose that God removed His protection of Adam and Eve.

        Then, “But is God decreeing a job for Lucifer and decreeing the ways Satan was to follow the same as decreeing that Lucifer must disobey?”

        Yes. God decreed that Satan acting according to his nature would purposely disobey God and entice Eve to eat the fruit and then use eve to get Adam to eat also because that is exactly what Satan wanted to do.

        Then, “There is no logical reason that “not intervening to stop” means “God decreed it happened!”

        God is omnipotent and thereby the final arbiter of all that happens. By either action or inaction, God determines all that happens and given that God knew what He would do before He created the universe, God decreed all that was to happen. How do you, or anyone else, avoid this conclusion (other than by saying that God really did not know what would happen and only planned Christ’s death as Plan B)?

        Then, “Yes, Calvinism redefines a lot of things. (Decree, sovereignty, etc.)”

        Calvinism defines its terms. So, instead of defining “decree” to mean, “decision made by God,” let’s define it to mean, “authoritative order having the force of law issued by God.” There is no difference in meaning between the two. So, let’s use your definition.

        Then, “Why believe a decision of non-action, if you want to put it in those terms, must mean God chooses what is happening?” (as pertains to the Trolley example.

        Because the Trolley example is inadequate to describe God’s role in the affairs of His creation. God never chooses between two bad outcomes. God chooses what He will do among all possible outcomes to achieve His purposes acting directly in some cases (.e.g., the flood of Noah, the impregnation of Mary) or through secondary means in others, (e.g., the death of Christ and of Stephen). Every evnet in the history of man can be tied to one or the other.

      6. Agreed. I too have tried to explain how Calvinism’s determinism makes sin impossible. If God ordains/decrees/causes (or whatever euphemism preferred) any action, then man cannot possibly be said to sin for fulfilling said decree. Conventional, handed down understandings of ‘sin’ and other biblical terms often make it very difficult for people to reason through the logical implications of their assertions.

      7. William Lane Craig agrees:
        -quote:

        Universal, divine determinism makes reality into a farce. On the deterministic view,…..there are no free agents in rebellion against God, whom God seeks to win through His love, and no one who freely responds to that love and freely gives his love and praise to God in return. The whole spectacle is a charade whose only real actor is God Himself.

    2. FOH writes, “Now, according to the Determinist-Calvinism-Reformed position, every time we encounter one of the hundreds and hundreds of passages like this (“the Lord was displeased”) we are to understand:

      God decreed/ willed/ wanted/ desired/ ordained that David lust after Bathsheba, He decreed/ willed/ wanted/ desired/ ordained that David kill Uriah, and He decreed/ willed/ wanted/ desired/ ordained that he would be displeased with what David had done.”

      Which is to say that God had the power to intervene and produce the opposite outcome had He chosen to do so. Even FOH must believe that God could have done this.

  11. In yesterday’s through-the Bible, in addition to 2 Samuel 9-11, we had John 15.

    15 “I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. 3 You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you.4 Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.
    —————-

    Christ goes on and on saying “If you remain in Me” many times.

    What does that mean that He “cuts off a branch”?

    What does that mean “Remain in Me and I will remain you”?

    Why over and over “If you remain in Me”? Why does Christ talk to His disciples in “if” statements?

  12. Today’s reading picks up in 2 Samuel 12.

    ​2 Samuel 12: 7 Then Nathan said to David, “You are that man! The Lord, the God of Israel, says: I anointed you king of Israel and saved you from the power of Saul. 8 I gave you your master’s house and his wives and the kingdoms of Israel and Judah. And if that had not been enough, I would have given you much, much more. 9 Why, then, have you despised the word of the Lord and done this horrible deed?
    ————–

    The Lord says He “would have”.

    Why does God EVER say “I would have”?? That implies that things could have been different and He “would have done” something different if the person in question had done something different.

    God gives the appearance here that despite Him doing all that for David….. David did something that God did not (in any way) want. David despised the Lord and did a horrible deed.

    In what way can Calvinists say that this despising, horrible thing was the “Secret will of God”?

    It makes no sense and make God’s words meaningless.

  13. Further in 2 Samuel 12…

    11 “This is what the Lord says: Because of what you have done, I will cause your own household to rebel against you. I will give your wives to another man before your very eyes, and he will go to bed with them in public view. 12 You did it secretly, but I will make this happen to you openly in the sight of all Israel.”
    ———–

    “Because of what you have done”

    Calvinists often say that God does “evil” things to prove that every act/ thought/ sin is from God. Their most famous one is in Acts 4 where they say that God did something evil that led to the crucifixion. (They also use Isaiah 10 repeatedly). Rinse, repeat.

    But you notice here (and throughout Scripture) that what God does (that they call evil) is in judgement for something man did.

    Meaning: God DOES “cause rebellion” on David’s house. He DOES do in public what David did in secret…..but always, always as a judgement.

    The point is that He never says He causes the initial sin of David. They superimpose that idea back ONTO the situation because God uses “evil” means to judge David.

    Human examples:

    The government will catch a criminal guilty of kidnapping and lock him up. This is essentially “kidnapping” on the part of the government.

    Some governments will catch a criminal guilty of “taking a life” and execute him. This is essentially “taking a life” on the part of the government.

    Some parents will spank a child guilty of hitting a sibling. This is essentially “hitting” the child.

    But most people can see the difference between God using “violence” to judge David, and David using “violence” to acquire Urriah’s wife.

    It is illogical and unbiblical of Calvinists to make this kind of connection.

    1. FOH writes, “Calvinists often say that God does “evil” things to prove that every act/ thought/ sin is from God.”

      No, Calvinists say that God works through people who do evil things and does so to accomplish His purposes. Thus, God worked through the death of Christ to bring salvation to the gentiles. God worked through the death of Stephen to evangelize the world. God works for the good of His elect even using the evil actions of people in bringing about that good.

      Then, “The point is that He never says He causes the initial sin of David.”

      Because God is sovereign making David subordinate to Him, anything David does must be decreed By God making God the remote (ultimate) cause and David the proximate cause of David’s sin.

      1. Jenai,
        Just a tip. Dont ever fall for this kind of Arminianism cloaked as “Calvinism”. First of all RH speak very incorrectly for Calvinism. Secondly, this is a statement right out of the Arminian play book.

        Calvinists (consistent ones) make no such statement as this:
        Calvinists say that God works through people who do evil things and does so to accomplish His purposes. Thus, God worked through the death of Christ to bring salvation to the gentiles. God worked through the death of Stephen to evangelize the world. God works for the good of His elect even using the evil actions of people in bringing about that good.

        Arminians say that God works THROUGH people who do evil things and STILL accomplishes His purposes….. God worked through (in spite of) the death of Stephen (but did not ordain or desire it) to evangelize the world.

        Calvinists say that God decrees all things (good and bad) and does so to accomplish His purposes. Thus, God decreed the death of Stephen to evangelize the world. Period.

        Let all readers of Sot 101 take note that no such idea of “working through people who do evil things” exists in true Reformed theology and RH knows it. He’s just trying to muddy the waters.

        I honestly feel silly bringing this to everyone’s attention for the 1000th time.

      2. FOH writes, ‘Let all readers of Sot 101 take note that no such idea of “working through people who do evil things” exists in true Reformed theology and RH knows it.’

        Let the readers of SOT101 red what Calvin, and Calvinists, draw out of God’s omnipotence/omniscience/sovereignty. I bet even FOH knew these things at one time but seems to have forgotten them.

      3. FOH
        ‘Let all readers of Sot 101 take note that no such idea of “working through people who do evil things” exists in true Reformed theology and RH knows it.’

        br.d
        It is the phrase “working through” that is ambiguous and misleading language for Calvinism.
        Because this language is designed to SNEAK IN a inference of “mere” permission.

        Paul Helm’s makes it much more clear in Calvinism:
        -quote
        Not only is every atom and molecule, every thought and desire, kept in being by God, but EVERY TWIST AND TURN of each
        of these is UNDER THE DIRECT CONTROL of God.

      4. br.d
        And Paul Helm holds the JI Packer chair of theo at Regents.

        I am not sure I understand what they spend all day teaching!?

        I mean one of their students shows up with his paper not finished….. was not God’s will! I mean honestly what argument can they make? How could it have been otherwise? Since it was all baked in /decided by God before time.

      5. FOH
        I mean one of their students shows up with his paper not finished….. was not God’s will! I mean honestly what argument can they make? How could it have been otherwise? Since it was all baked in /decided by God before time.

        br.d
        I agree FOH – this is where we see Calvinism’s *AS-IF* thinking pattern.

        Its their way of evading the conundrums they are burdened with.

        Dr. Flowers gets an emotional backlash from James White every time he brings this up.
        White gets all huffy and demands that he stop saying it.

        Ignoring it and making-believe the opposite – is the way they learn to live with the irrational.

        Like Calvin instructing his disciples: “go about your office *AS-IF* nothing is determined in any part”
        When that is the opposite of what he believes.

      6. FOH – Yes, I realize he is not presenting a Calvinist worldview! It’s a bit confusing, since I thought he was trying to defend Calvinism, but seems unaware of core beliefs of the theory.

        Hi Rhutchin,

        Are you unaware of what Calvinism says on this topic?

        “First, the eternal predestination of God, by which before the fall of Adam He decreed what should take place concerning the whole human race and every individual, was fixed and determined.” – John Calvin

        “Inasmuch as God elects some and passes by others, the cause is not to be found in anything else but in his own purpose … before men are born their lot is assigned to each of them by the secret will of God … the salvation or the perdition of men depends on His free election.” – John Calvin

        “. . . how foolish and frail is the support of divine justice afforded by the suggestion that evils come to be, not by His will but by His permission…It is a quite frivolous refuge to say that God otiosely permits them, when Scripture shows Him not only willing, but the author of them…Who does not tremble at these judgments with which God works in the hearts of even the wicked whatever He will, rewarding them nonetheless according to desert? Again it is quite clear from the evidence of Scripture that God works in the hearts of men to incline their wills just as he will, whether to good for His mercy’s sake, or to evil according to their merits.” – John Calvin

        “He is a “faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he” (Deuteronomy 32:4, NIV). God never does evil.
        Yet this is not to say that God does not create, send, permit, or even move others to do evil, for Scripture is clear that nothing arises, exists, or endures independently of God’s will…it isn’t just that God manages to turn the evil aspects of our world to good for those who love him; it is rather that he himself brings about these evil aspects for his glory (see Exodus 9:13-16; John 9:3) and his people’s good (see Hebrews 12:3-11; James 1:2-4).

        This includes — as incredible and as unacceptable as it may currently seem — God’s having even brought about the Nazis’ brutality at Birkenau and Auschwitz as well as the terrible killings of Dennis Rader and even the sexual abuse of a young child: “The LORD has made everything for its own purpose, even the wicked for the day of evil” (Proverbs 16:4, NASB). “When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider: God has made the one as well as the other” (Ecclesiastes 7:14, NIV).” John Piper
        https://www.desiringgod.org/messages/all-the-good-that-is-ours-in-christ-seeing-gods-gracious-hand-in-the-hurts-others-do-to-us

        “The almighty power, unsearchable wisdom, and infinite goodness of God so far manifest themselves in his providence, that it extendeth itself even to the first fall, and all other sins of angels and men; and that not by a bare permission, but such as hath joined with it a most wise and powerful bounding, and otherwise ordering, and governing of them, in a manifold dispensation, to his own holy ends; yet so, as the sinfulness thereof proceedeth only from the creature, and not from God, who, being most holy and righteous, neither is nor can be the author or approver of sin.” – Westminster Confession

        Calvinism is not the view that God uses even the actions of the wicket to serve His eternal plan and bring good to His people. Rather, Calvinism rests in the idea that God gives evil permission to occur, decrees that individual sins and evils *must* occur, carries the universe in such a way that they will inevitably occur, and bounds the will of the individual so there is no opportunity or choice for the individual to do otherwise than the decreed sin. (The last statement, that all of this is done in such a way where God is neither author or approver of sin, is merely an appeal that people accept a logical contradiction, A, but in such a way that A is not A, as if it were logically coherent.)

        I think a far simpler and less contradictory view of God in relation to sin can be found in Ha 1:12:

        “Your eyes are too pure to look on evil;
        you cannot tolerate wrongdoing.
        Why then do you tolerate the treacherous?
        Why are you silent while the wicked
        swallow up those more righteous than themselves?”
        Hab 1:12

        And Ezek 18:23:
        “Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked? declares the Sovereign LORD. Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live?”

        God doesn’t decree that individuals must commit more evil. He doesn’t morally permit evil to occur. He does not will or want evil to occur. But God *does* delay judgement on evil people. He doesn’t usually interfere when people are doing wicked things, even to His own children. (He can interfere, such as the angel breaking the chains of Paul and Silas; giving power to a rival kingdom to discipline or punish the Israelites; raising the dead; miracles providing food, etc. – but He does not always.) The reason God delays judgement and temporarily puts up with the wicked are several: He hopes even the wicked will repent and be saved, adversity builds the faith of a believer, He wants the world to recognize that it is broken and in need of a Redeemer, etc.

        But the Day of the Lord where He pours out His wrath will indeed come! The Calvinist notion that any evil which occurs must have been decreed and bound to happen by God would, even if they claim otherwise, logically make God the source of evil, and would remove any just reason God would have to punish sin.

        I also find it interesting that those most phobic about any perceived implication that man might have anything at all to do with salvation (even in such passive, non-saving roles as acknowledging that we need rescue or our accepting the offered deliverance) have no such phobia when it comes to making God incline the hearts of men to evil or decree that men sin, partnering God together with evil as its true guide, mastermind, and commander.

      7. Jenai
        Hi Rhutchin – Are you unaware of what Calvinism says on this topic?

        br.d
        There is an aspect of Calvinism that takes people quite by surprise – which is the degree of Double-Speak within its language.
        Eventually you recognize it – and you understand the reason for it.

        But here are some quotes concerning it:

        Dr. Jerry Walls, in his presentation What’s wrong with Calvinism:
        -quote:
        “If Calvinists didn’t rely so heavily on misleading rhetoric, their theology would lose all credibility within two years.”

        Norman Geisler in his book Chosen but Free:
        “Some Calvinists use smoke-and-mirror tactics to avoid the harsh implications of their view” (pg 104)
        “This is done by redefining terms and Theological Doublespeak” (pg 261)

        Micah Coate in his book “The Cultish side of Calvinism”:
        -quote
        “Calvinists arguments are buried in theological and grammatical doublespeak.”

        The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy – in its article on Theological Determinism:
        -quote
        “Paul Helm, another staunch theological determinist of the Calvinist variety, simply says that God’s providence is ‘extended to all that He has created’ (1993, p. 39). The problem with such characterizations is that they are subject to multiple interpretations, some of whom would be affirmed by theological indeterminists.”

        Ex-Calvinist Daniel Gracely in his book “Calvinism a closer look” explains the reason for the Double-Speak
        -quote
        This is what I used to do as a Calvinist. I liken these non-sense statements, or propositions, to the riding of a rocking horse….. I would go back and forth in seesaw motion, lest on the one hand I find myself accusing God of insufficient sovereignty, or on the other hand find myself accusing God of authoring sin. All the while, there remained an illusion of movement towards truth, when in fact there was no real movement at all. At length I would allow the springs of dialectical tension to rest the rocking horse in the center, and then I would declare as harmonious propositions, which in fact, were totally contradictory to each other. Calvinist riders still ride out this scenario.”

    2. This thread is getting pretty tangled, but I want to say I love these examples!

      “The government will catch a criminal guilty of kidnapping and lock him up. This is essentially “kidnapping” on the part of the government.

      Some governments will catch a criminal guilty of “taking a life” and execute him. This is essentially “taking a life” on the part of the government.

      Some parents will spank a child guilty of hitting a sibling. This is essentially “hitting” the child.

      But most people can see the difference between God using “violence” to judge David, and David using “violence” to acquire Urriah’s wife.”

      When God pours His wrath out in scripture, it is treated as a judicial sentence for sin. But God is not described as judging “pre-crime.” That is, He isn’t shown doing things like punishing people, judicially, before they commit a crime. Even though God in His omniscience knows someone will commit a crime, He doesn’t punish it before it happens or (generally) move to stop it before it occurs. [It is possible God might even view the use of force to stop someone from sinning before they actually do as a crime/sin of itself? We all agree He technically has the ‘power’ to stop people or even change their thoughts before they engage in sin, but would God’s character even allow that? To flip around your examples, the government that executes citizens who have yet to commit a crime is tyrannical. The parent who spanks a child when the child has yet to do anything wrong is abusive. Even the excuse that God “knows” a crime will be committed doesn’t seem enough to overcome the problem that a judge who punishes before the crime occurs is not upholding justice, but perverting it.]

      But regardless, I fail to see why God in His wisdom and eternal view deciding to not personally stop someone from sinning or stop them or punish them mid sin would be logically equivalent to deciding that someone commit a sin.

      I find it interesting that Rhutchin likes using the word ‘arbiter of all that happens’ to describe God. I would agree that God is the arbiter of all things! But again, it comes down to defining terms:

      Arbiter:
      “One whose opinion or judgment is considered authoritative or worthy of respect. To act as arbiter between; judge.”

      God “decreed/decided” how justice would operate in His universe, according to His own character as mercifully just. The justice He displays in scripture is not something that happens “before” the crime, but after. And because He is also merciful, He does not always immediate punish, does not always punish as severely as a crime deserves, and He even provides ways someone can throw themselves on the mercy of the judge to escape punishment through forgiveness. Also, he mercifully gives warnings about the consequences of sin. Those are the things God decides. But if God were to decree that an individual sin in His role as arbiter and judge, then He would both lose the just reason to punish (they were only doing as God decreed they would, after all, and thus were obeying) and would no longer be righteous. As a righteous God He sets the target which man may or may not hit (and will never hit perfectly every time.) But He cannot decree that a man hit a different target without that becoming the new, true target, and hence righteous.

      And God shows that He delays judgement. Sin is not decreed, it is the breaking of one of God’s decrees. As such, God has every right to punish sin in His own time or forgive it according to His own rules. That is why God is the arbiter of all things – because He is the standard of good and sets the rules of righteousness and judgement; NOT because He decrees that individuals break His revealed decrees and commands and sin.

      1. Jenai
        I find it interesting that Rhutchin likes using the word ‘arbiter of all that happens’ to describe God.

        br.d
        Linguists call this “distancing language”.
        It is language used to evade culpability – which in most cases means personal culpability.
        However in rhutchin’s case – the ‘target’ he seeks to protect from culpability is Calvin’s god.

      2. JR: “Even though God in His omniscience knows someone will commit a crime, He doesn’t punish it before it happens or (generally) move to stop it before it occurs…We all agree He technically has the ‘power’ to stop people or even change their thoughts before they engage in sin, but would God’s character even allow that?”

        We agree on this. The issue is whether God decrees the sin that He had the power to prevent by His decision not to prevent it. Thus, you ask, “I fail to see why God in His wisdom and eternal view deciding to not personally stop someone from sinning or stop them or punish them mid sin would be logically equivalent to deciding that someone commit a sin.” God decides not to stop a person from sinning – e.g., God does not stop Adam from eating the fruit. Is that the same as God deciding that a person should sin – i.e., That Adam should eat the fruit. Is God’s decision to watch Adam eat the fruit equivalent to God deciding that Adam should eat the fruit. I think it is.

        Then, “I would agree that God is the arbiter of all things! But again, it comes down to defining terms:”

        let’s use the definition relevant to this discussion: “a person with power to decide a dispute.” God has the power to decide every event and because He is God, necessarily decides every event. God is somewhat more than “One whose opinion or judgment is considered authoritative or worthy of respect.” I don’t see a reason to reduce God to one who offers opinions worthy of respect.

        then, “But if God were to decree that an individual sin in His role as arbiter and judge, then He would both lose the just reason to punish (they were only doing as God decreed they would, after all, and thus were obeying) and would no longer be righteous….He cannot decree that a man hit a different target without that becoming the new, true target, and hence righteous.”

        God establishes the target – the law – and requires that people keep the law, and then decrees that people be able to disobey that law if they so desire. As the final arbiter who could stop all sin, God decides not to intervene when people want to disobey His law.

        Then, “That is why God is the arbiter of all things – because He is the standard of good and sets the rules of righteousness and judgement;”

        An arbiter actually makes decisions. God decided that people should be able to sin and do so without interference form Him..

      3. rhutchin
        The issue is whether God decrees the sin that He had the power to prevent by His decision not to prevent it.

        br.d
        1) if Calvin’s god decrees [X] making the STATE of [X] is immutable – then he has made [X] such that he CANNOT prevent it
        2) However if he prevents himself from decreeing [X] and thus making [X] immutable – then there is nothing to prevent.
        3) Obviously Calvin’s god does not like restraining himself from decreeing sin! :-]

        rhutchin
        An arbiter actually makes decisions. God decided that people should be able to sin and do so without interference form Him..

        br.d
        Calvin’s god RENDERS-CERTAIN all sin which comes to pass.
        And he CANNOT alter/change/interfere that which he has made IMMUTABLE.

        If he did not FIRST-CONCEIVE and then RENDER-CERTAIN that sin – it would have never have existence.

        John Calvin says – Calvin’s god decrees sin FOR HIS GOOD PLEASURE
        Obviously Calvin’s god does not like restraining himself from HIS GOOD PLEASURE! :-]

      4. Rhutchin –

        An arbiter isn’t just someone who makes decisions. An arbiter makes *judicial* or authoritative decisions, or decides the rules, or makes decisions regarding the rules. Judges and referees are both arbiters in different ways.

        Now, imagine a referee is watching a match that is being played according to rules he himself devised, but this referee is prescient. He knows that guy on the red team is going to foul the guy on the blue team. But he doesn’t interfere before the foul is committed. Once the red team player lays hands incorrectly on the other man, the referee still doesn’t go over to physically stop him, just blows a whistle to alert a foul has been committed. Does that mean the referree decreed the foul would be committed by deciding “not” to interfere? Of course not. The referee already ‘interferred’ in many ways: Setting up the rules of the match (definition of what fouls are, warning fouls would be punished); blowing the whistle during the foul (what we can liken to conviction by the Holy Spirit, since the whistle merely alerts the person they are committing a foul and doesn’t actually stop them physically; in some sports games it is several minutes before fighting players might heed the whistle); punishing the foul according to the rules of the game, which may not be an immediately paid penalty. Etc.

        Your philosophical idea that if God does not directly and immediately “stop” someone that that is a decision of non-interference and equivalent to “decreeing” the sin occur makes no logical sense. For one, God already “interferes” in countless ways – setting the rules/standard of righteousness, His *actual* laws and decrees, the Holy Spirit convicting the world of sin, punishing the wicked at times immediately and at times deferring judgement to a later date – but still reserving the right to judge the crime, etc.

        God never set up a rule that if He does not immediately stop or punish that is equivalent to decreeing the sin. And the idea (very similar to John Piper’s view) that God has two types of decrees – one of revealed will or personal desire (the target of righteousness) and one of decree (that ensures all things including heinous sin will definitely come to pass exactly as they do) undermines the very nature of Justice and Righteousness.

        “The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; The decisions of the LORD are true; they are righteous altogether.” Psa 19:9

        ***

        On the parable of the soil:

        You are reading an assumption into the text (fallen humans can’t respond to the word/seed/gospel in faith) and trying to glean information from a figurative parable on that assumed point, ignoring what Jesus actually said the parable was about. (It is one of the parables He specifically explains.) Then, to ‘prove’ your point, you just point to other figurative verses and claiming they say something not mandated by context, and to yet other verses which are clearly in context about other things (like the new life he believer is given by God through baptism) and trying to treat them as parallel scriptures to the point you assumed.

        As someone else already mentioned, that is ‘eisegesis’ – when you come to a text with presuppositions/axioms that you ‘read into’ the text. Because of this, each new scripture you try to make be a parallel scripture to the first merely compounds the error, rather than strengthening your point. Three verses/passages out of context, etc. are not stronger than one verse/passage out of context.

        You see the Parable of the sower about the “good soil” needing regenerated first – which isn’t at all what Jesus is talking about. Furthermore, I would assume in your view that you see only the “good soil” as having been regenerated – but in such a case, why were there three other types of soil and not just one, the hardpan road which no seed could penetrate fast enough before it was snatched away? How would you explain the seed on rocky soil, “Those on the rocky ground are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They have faith for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away.”

        How can “dead soil” in your view still “receive” the seed (The Greek dechomai, to receive in a welcoming/receptive way.) See I Thess 2:13 for the same word in action: “For this reason we also constantly thank God that when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but for what it really is, the word of God, which also performs its work in you who believe.” In your view, isn’t the ‘dead sinner’ unable to welcome anything because you see them as a spiritual corpse vs. a corrupt sinner under the penalty of death?

        How could this “dead soil” in your view, manage to believe for a while? Jesus clearly says they do believe (present active tense) for a time/season, but it’s because they “hold no root” (present active, so they may have had a root for a time, but not a firm or strong one since they did not continue to hold a root,) but in a time of testing or temptation they fall away. [Note that James 1:2-3 shows that the believer should embrace the testing of their faith since it develops perseverance so the believer can grow to be mature and complete – like the plant on good soil was!]

        Jesus isn’t making some claim that people should hope they are the special ones to get their “soil regenerated” before they can believe, and tough luck if they aren’t; such a thought is alien to the text.

      5. Excellent analogy with the referee. It is a mere philosphical opinion, and a faulty one, to assert that foreknoweldge demands fore-ordination. If a sovereign, omnipotent, prescient being, like God, created rational creatures with the freedom of choice, like man, then he must have, by his own choice, limited the use of his potential power to interfere in foreseen events. We can only theorize on how this works, as we are not sovereign, omniscient, omnipotent beings overseeing a created mass of beloved, free creatures, who we are determined to offer a second chance when the first one is blown.

        Of course God could make the decision to never limit his own control of events, but that would require never creating free, rational beings. The most a controlling, deterministic God could do is create seemingly free, seemingly rational beings who mimic, like automatons, free, rational choice while actually performing only pre-programmed actions. This is the view Calvinism holds of reality, however they prefer to describe it.

        I would grant that God could, had he so chosen, have created this sort of robot creation. What he could not do, in justice, is hold said robotic automatons responsible for the actions he pre-programmed them to perform. There can exist no such thing as sin in a universe in which the creator determines whatsoever comes to pass. So yes, I deny the inspired inerrancy of the Westminster Confession. Which is preferable to upholding its logical inconsistency.

      6. William Lane Craig – on Universal Divine Causal Determinism

        What truly distinguishes the Calvinist view is that its embrace of the philosophical view of Universal Divine Causal Determinism. The Calvinist thinks that God causally determines everything that happens. However Universal Divine Causal Determinism nullifies human agency.

        In other words, there really are no human agents on this view. Since our choices are not “UP TO US” but are determined by God, human beings cannot be said to be real agents.

        Rather, they are like mere instruments by means of which God acts to produce some effect much as a man might use a stick to roll a stone. The stick is a mere instrument in the hands of the man who functions as the true causal agent in this case.

        Of course, secondary causes like the stick will retain all of their properties and powers as intermediate causes and the Reformed divines will often remind us of this. But this is just to say that the stick retains all of its properties and powers which make it suitable for the one who uses it to do something like move a stone.

        The stick has properties – such as rigidity, weight, and density which make it useful for the one who uses it as an instrument to bring about a certain end. But these intermediate causes are mere instruments…in the employ of that one agent who alone has the power to initiate action.

        This makes it inexplicable why God would then treat us as agents holding us morally responsible for the things that he himself caused us and used us to do. The fact that on Universal Divine Causal Determinism there really is only one agent in the world (and that is God) I think makes real nonsense of Christian theology.

      7. JR: “An arbiter isn’t just someone who makes decisions.”

        We seem to agree on that God is omni this and omni that and what God does, or can do, with all those omnis. We seem to disagree on the proper terminology to describe what it is that we agree on. I am content to leave it at that rather than go back and forth disagreeing on proper terminology.

      8. “On the parable of the soil: Jesus isn’t making some claim that people should hope they are the special ones to get their “soil regenerated” before they can believe, and tough luck if they aren’t; such a thought is alien to the text.”

        We know that Jesus called it “good” soil and contrasted it with the lack of soil by the road, rocky places that did not have much soil, and soil filled with thorns. What we have are four different reactions by people to the word. Some simply don’t understand the word; some receive the word with joy but this joy does not last, some let worldly desires crowd out the word, and some receive the word and bear fruit. It is “good” soil so it isn’t the other soils. For example, “this is the man who hears the word and understands it (or accepts it per Mark).” That this person bears much fruit tells us that is not affected by affliction or persecution because of the word, not does he let the cares of the world prevent him bearing fruit.

        We as believers reading this parable would likely think, “Why am I good soil when I know that I was one of the other soils.” Maybe I am the only one who thinks like this. Jesus doesn’t tell us how the good soil turned out to be “good” but Paul said, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth,” so we ought to think that God had something to do with the soil in the parable being fruitful. Or would that also be reading an assumption into the text? Is it exegesis or eisegesis to take truth from one Scripture and incorporate it into other Scripture. I think it is exegesis. Perhaps, I have ignored context in my analysis of various Scriptures being applicable to the parable of the seed.

        I agree with you that, “You see the Parable of the sower about the “good soil” needing regenerated first – which isn’t at all what Jesus is talking about.” That doesn’t mean that Jesus failed to understand that the difference between the “good” soil and the other soils was something God did for the good soil that He did not do for the other soils. One can certainly take that and look through the Scriptures to see if they spoke on this issue. That is what JTL has done and that is what I have done. Did you mean to say that this is not legitimate exegetical Bible study?

      9. Jenai,
        You are right. If Calvinism is correct (everyone is dead until they are made alive) then there should be only 2 soils (dead and “good”).

        But Calvinists quote verses in the parable without even listening to them…..

        “…. some receive the word with joy but this joy does not last…”

        Repeatedly Calvinists tell us that men are dead….. not “receiving.” (can’t receive what is not intended for them).

        They cannot respond in any way….except as dead men…. rejecting.

        And yet…. and yet….here the Bible says clearly (even quoted from the Calvinist version) some “receive the word with joy.”

        With joy? That is not the image of a dead man not hearing a thing.

        That makes zero sense.

  14. FOH, my Semi-Pelagian friend posted this :

    “Where did you get the idea that the soil is changed by anyone? There is no mention of that in the parable or in the explanation by Christ. You are just showing your bias to “read into” a passage what you want it to say.”

    “Not a good idea, friend.”

    FOH, my friend… hahaha… you know the Bible declares that all humans are sinners, and no one is righteous or good enough. Why do you think this type of soil was described as good? when this good soil was formerly as bad as the rest, then who transformed them into a new status that is good and ready to be planted with the seeds?

    1. But….JTL you are reading into the text.

      19 When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in their heart.
      [why does the evil one need to snatch it away if they are dead?]

      This is the seed sown along the path. 20 The seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy.
      [How can they hear and receive with joy if they are dead?]

      21 But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away.
      [they fell away? I thought you said they were dead?]

      22 The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful.
      [That does not sound “dead” either!]

      23 But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it.
      [this verb can mean understand, perceives, synthesizes]

      No where does it say there is any intervention from the outside (except the evil one). The only difference mentioned in the whole parable is the action taken by the “hearing” soil.

      You can’t just add to the text!! Wow. Bad hermeneutic!

      1. FOH, my friend: You are correct by saying “:No where does it say there is any intervention from the outside (except the evil one). The only difference mentioned in the whole parable is the action taken by the “hearing” soil – I Agree. Why ?

        1. The action of hearing taken by all of the types of soil differs through the outcome. Only the good soil as the legitimate beneficiaries becomes successful while the rest still perish. Remember what Jesus said: “My sheep hears my voice…”- This skill of hearing is particular/true only among the true sheep.

        2. “{No one can snatch them [the true sheep, true believers in Christ] out of My hand” – Jesus said this in John 10:28. The rest of the types of soil, the seed that falls on them have been snatched, therefore they are not legitimate beneficiaries of Christ’s death on the cross, not chosen.

        3. How can they hear and received with joy is they are dead? – My friend FOH, They are spiritually dead because even if they are able to hear but they don’t understand it. [maybe it was a prosperity gospel that is why they are so quick to grab it] The true message was still unveiled to them. Why? because they are spiritually blind and they cannot unblind themselves. Only God can do that for them [the rest of the types of soil].

      2. Sorry man,

        This is just you repeating over and over what you say.

        Every one of the 15-20 verses that you and RH repeat over and over could have alternate interpretations than you offer. And many times those alternate interpretations are explained.

        What happens when we do explain those verses? You guys start repeating a couple other of the verses and the process starts all over.

        When I was a Calvinist I lived that way too.

        What I am trying to do now is show that we can choose to filter the WHOLE Bible through a few verses if we want (Calvinism). Or we can look at the thousands of places in the Bible where it seriously does not look like the “Good News” of the Bible is that 98% of humanity was created for destruction for the glory of a deity that has no personal relationship with people because he has determined before time their every move.

        That’s the Good News?

        I know, I know….. the typical Calvinist response is “But FOH, we ALL deserve death and the Good News is that He saves some.”

        Baloney! A fundamental, inescapable part of the “Doctrines of Grace” for Calvinists is that God decided before time to condemn all of mankind and save a few. There is nothing “good” about that news.

    2. jtleosala
      when this good soil was formerly as bad as the rest, then who transformed them into a new status that is good and ready to be planted with the seeds?

      br.d
      Where in the text does it EXPLICITLY state the attribute of the soil (i.e., good vs bad) was changed?

      Eisegesis is the process of interpreting text in such a way as to introduce one’s own presuppositions, agendas or biases.

      1. br.d asks JTL, “Where in the text does it EXPLICITLY state the attribute of the soil (i.e., good vs bad) was changed?”

        The parable establishes that there are four different soils identified with people. Luke 8 offers this information, “the seed in the good soil, these are the ones who have heard the word in an honest and good heart, and hold it fast, and bear fruit with perseverance.” We can identify those with “an honest and good heart” as believers. Paul offers a contrast in Ephesians 4, “I say therefore, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind, being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart; and they, having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality, for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness.” In Ephesians 2, Paul said, “you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.” What happened to them, “God made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved).” God changed believers from dead to being alive. We can extend this to the parable of the seed to say that good soil – those with an honest and good heart – is good because God has changed it from bad to good (from death to life).

      2. br.d asks JTL, “Where in the text does it EXPLICITLY state the attribute of the soil (i.e., good vs bad) was changed?”

        rhutchin
        The parable establishes that there are four different soils identified with people.

        br.d
        Right – the answer is – it doesn’t state the attribute of the soil is changed – thus the Eisegesis.

        rhutchin
        We can identify those with “an honest and good heart” as believers.

        br.d
        This is FALSE in Calvinism also
        Calvin teaches the “elect” status (those that are not TOTALLY DEPRAVED) is a SECRET – no man knows.

        rhutchin
        God changed believers from dead to being alive. We can extend this to the parable of the seed to say that good soil – those with an honest and good heart – is good because God has changed it from bad to good (from death to life).

        br.d
        Thank you for providing the example of eisegesis.
        What you have is a FORCED presupposition of “regeneration precedes faith” upon one text – which is then FORCED upon another.

        You’ve provided an excellent example of what eisegesis looks like! :-]

      3. Indeed, it pretty much demonstrates how one can import a concept and create an entire new meaning to any verse or passage, as desired. As so many have done. Many have begun to see the weakness, the falsity really, of claiming to be all about sola scriptura, biblical inerrancy, literal interpretation, etc. No matter what terms are used, people appear to be deluding themselves that their particular interpretation of scripture is conclusive and inerrant.

        I get it, because I was in that club for so long, but eventually the rational, honest, self-reflective person begins to realize that they have simply been legitimizing their own views. If we are honest, we will admit that there are multiple interpretations to words, and that any single one, however convinced we are of its veracity, may not be entirely correct. In fact, we can be assured that it is not, as we all see through a glass darkly, and it is likely that, at best, we can grow in knowledge and understanding through the years.

        This does not leave us without an anchor, but leads us to a place of humility, as well as grace toward those who view things differently than do we. Rather than assuming that we can provide the ‘One, true meaning’ of each and every verse of scripture, we may have to content ourselves with grasping its overarching themes.

        It just may be that complex theology is not required to know and have a relationship with the living God. Simple faith just might do the trick.

      4. br.d, and his god, the neurological impulse man : Here is my response…

        The parable speaks of the inclusiveness of the total human race on earth – represented by the 4 types of soil. It is undeniable in the Bible that all humans are sinners, meaning all belongs to “bad soil” – as their attributes, whether elect or non-elect.

        Where in the text does it explicitly state the attribute of the soil i.e.: good or bad? this is your question… – well, the contrast of “good soil” is bad right ?

      5. jtleosala
        br.d and his god, the neurological impulse man : Here is my response…

        The parable speaks of the inclusiveness of the total human race on earth – represented by the 4 types of soil. It is undeniable in the Bible that all humans are sinners, meaning all belongs to “bad soil” – as their attributes, whether elect or non-elect.

        br.d
        This does not answer the question – where in the text does it EXPLICITLY state the attribute of the soil (i.e., good/bad) was changed?

        jtleosala
        Where in the text does it explicitly state the attribute of the soil i.e.: good or bad? this is your question… – well, the contrast of “good soil” is bad right ?

        br.d
        So your answer is – nowhere in the text does it EXPLICITLY state what you claim it does.
        Thank you for providing a good example of eisegesis

        However, scripture does command man:
        -quote
        “Break up your unplowed ground; for it is time to seek the LORD, until he comes and showers his righteousness on you.”

        Who in this text does it EXPLICITLY state is to change the status of the soil?

      6. br.d,
        You can show 100 verses about man seeking God and can even quote…

        Hebrews 11:6 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

        Calvinists will always, always superimpose their idea that (even though it looks like it) man cannot do any of the things the Bible tells him to do. Nope. They just filter it all through the same verses (interpreted their way)….. and they whisk away those verses.

        Rinse. Repeat. Here it comes…. just watch.

      7. Yes I agree FOH!
        Talking scripture with a Calvinist is an act of futility
        Their feet are cemented in eisegesis concrete! :-]

      8. They approach clear, easy passages and change the message. Here’s one:

        Genesis 4:6 Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? 7 If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.”

        Clearly the Sovereign, Creator God is telling sinful Cain that sin is coming….but if does what is right (that is an option or God is lying) then he will be accepted. He is told that he must rule over sin (which is an option or God is tricking us).

        Now, we have heard convoluted interpretations by Calvinists superimposing their theology into the passage. In a nutshell they say that Cain could NOT have done what was right, and he could NOT have ruled over sin (impossible from before time).

        So…. that only makes a mockery of the words of God in this passage. What can we ever know to be true from Him at that rate?

      9. ‘Do not’ I was taught by my Calvi-pastor, ‘trust in the Holy Spirit to bring you into understanding of God’s word’. This was contrary to all of the teaching I had ever had in various evangelical churches and denominations throughout my lifetime. It took me some time to realize that Calvies dispense with the Holy Spirit and replace him with the authority of respected teachers, be it John Calvin, John Piper or John MacArthur. (They are not all Johns, but you get my drift.)

        Aside from the lip-service required by scripture, the Holy Spirit is essentially out of work within the Calvinist fold. Followers are commanded to submit to the authority of men, to be ruled over by ‘officers’ and to accept the ‘discipline’ of self-righteous superiors, rather than to trust and follow the leading of the Holy Spirit into greater wisdom and maturity. They have simply re-imaged the authoritarian hierarchy of the Roman Church they so decry.

      10. TSOO says, Aside from the lip-service required by scripture, the Holy Spirit is essentially out of work within the Calvinist fold.

        Reggi . Interesting observation!! this is what I thought I was seeing too!! very dangerous indeed☹

        Matthew 12:31 NASB — “Therefore I say to you, any sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven people, but blasphemy against the Spirit shall not be forgiven.
        Hmm🤔☹

      11. That’s why Calvinists have no authority over – and no ability to war against – principalities and powers. Eisigetically strong – and spiritually neutered.

      12. It’s fairly easy. Simply convert the call to all men to ‘Believe’, which appears countless times throughout scripture, into ‘God will, unsought by the individual, regenerate certain dead men who could not believe into ‘living’ men who then can and irresistibly will ‘Believe’.

        Of course, scripture nowhere teaches this philosophy or chronology, but have you no imagination? Just read it in, man, it’s not that hard! Before you know it, every time you see God imploring men to ‘believe’ in him and all that his love provides, your subconscious will auto-correct it to ‘those whom God has chosen and enabled to believe’.

        You won’t even notice how illogical it is for God to assert that the eternal destiny of men rests upon their ‘willingness’ to believe the gospel message when he himself has cursed them with the inability to do so. Before they were ever born. With no chance of ever doing otherwise than as he has determinitively decreed. You won’t even feel the ‘tension’ of a God who supposedly ‘so loved the world’ irrevocably destining most of them for damnation, because you will not really have to think about it. Just let the auto-correct do its job, and you can float calmly through the logical inconsistencies and blatant contradictions without the least dis-ease.

        Any time a passage asserts God’s pleas with men to follow him, or states his desire that none perish, you simply re-purpose it to say ‘If, and only if, God has preselected one for this special privilege.’ Whenever God says ‘If you will’, ‘Because you’ or ‘If only’, you will simply gloss over it as if it can indicate something other than men having free choices that determine their destiny. Poof, all discrepancies vanish, and one’s bedrock foundation remains, undisturbed. Because the bedrock foundation is a man-made tradition, which scripture is forced to bow to.

      13. Indeed….. now go read Hebrews 11.

        The whole chapter is full of real names of real people that accomplished exploits for God by their faith. Simple. Not fuzzy or hazy.

        But no…… but no……..

        They must infuse back onto each verse and each name the idea that —— the faith mentioned was given to them and they had no choice but to do what they did.

        What….. in ….. the ……world …..is…..the …..point ….. then?

        It cannot strengthen our faith…. since we are just like them….. we have faith foisted on us or we dont. If we do, we have no choice but to use it. If we dont…… well…. too bad, that was decided before the foundations.

        Again, what then is the point of the chapter?

      14. The key that unlocked my chains was the Spirit of God bringing me to face the question, ‘If Calvinism is true, what is the point?’

        What is the point of the cross, if the elect have been predetermined to be saved?
        What is the point of prayer, if God has personally, irrevocably ordained whatsoever will come to pass?
        What is the point of encouraging the lost to read scripture, if they are too dead to understand it?
        What is the point of living, if your every action has been orchestrated, an unchangeable script, written and assigned to you by someone else?
        What is the point of giving men the power of reason, if they have been assigned a predetermined script?

        I could go on and on, but I realized that, under Calvinism, life had no point or genuine meaning. Once I realized the meaning of its doctrine, I had to either bow to the cruel, harsh manipulative Calvi-god or reject him. Many, seeing the choice as Calvi-God or none, turn from faith altogether. Having once known, loved and followed God apart from the reinterpretation of Calvinism, I knew there was another God than the Calvi-god, and I fled to him in relief and joy.

        Nor do I jest. I recall one woman from my Calvi-church who was considering moving a few hours away, and the Calvi-pastor was recommending a church for her to attend. ‘Is the pastor as strict as you?’ she asked. ‘Worse’ the Calvi-pastor joked. She turned from God altogether, abandoned her children and returned to her life as a sex slave of her cousin and his friends. Because that was preferable to the image of God she had been presented with.

      15. Wonderful Testimony TS00!

        This is why we observe the Calvinist double-think mentality.

        He is taught to believe [X] is TRUE – but he knows he must live *AS-IF* [X] is FALSE
        And he knows the general narrative of scripture is contrary to his 40+ proof-texts.

        So in order to retain an alliance with scripture he is forced into Calvinism’s Double-Speak tap-dance.

      16. br.d writes:
        “So in order to retain an alliance with scripture he is forced into Calvinism’s Double-Speak tap-dance.”

        Which would never be mistaken for an interpretive dance. 😉

        Rather than encouraging believers to study, think and prayerfully seek the Spirit’s leading, they generate and hand out an authoritative script to be followed, just as they falsely imagine God doing. When a challenger says A, respond with A-1, and so on. I’m more a thinker than an automaton, so I never was willing to be restricted to parroting someone else’s talking points. (There is no way on earth anyone could share my ‘theology’ one hundred percent. I don’t even agree with everything I believed a month ago.)

        I tend to view meaningful conversation as an exchange of ideas, with the goal of understanding one another and perhaps gaining new insight. I think through ideas by writing about them, and interacting with other informed thinkers of various stripes, live or in their writing. But I heard the Calvi-script recited endlessly, and can usually predict what’s coming next.

      17. TS00
        your subconscious will auto-correct it ….
        Any time a passage asserts God’s pleas with men to follow him, or states his desire that none perish, you simply re-purpose it to say ……
        Poof, all discrepancies vanish, and one’s bedrock foundation remains, undisturbed. Because the bedrock foundation is a man-made tradition, which scripture is forced to bow to.

        br.d
        Yes that is exactly my observation also!
        The Calvinist knows he is not supposed to PHYSICALLY alter the text.
        So he alters the text in his mind when he is reading it.

        His mind is trained to read his philosophy into 40+ proof-text verses
        And then he can claim those verses require reading that philosophy into the rest.

  15. jtleosala
    It is undeniable in the Bible that all humans are sinners, meaning all belongs to “bad soil” – as their attributes, whether elect or non-elect.

    br.d
    FALSE
    Still other seed fell on GOOD soil. It came up, grew and produced a crop, some multiplying thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times.”
    Mark 4:8

    Who gives a man the authority to call BAD what Jesus calls GOOD?

    1. jtleosala
      “It is undeniable in the Bible that all humans are sinners, meaning all belongs to “bad soil” – as their attributes, whether elect or non-elect.”

      br.d
      “FALSE
      Still other seed fell on GOOD soil. It came up, grew and produced a crop, some multiplying thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times.”
      Mark 4:8

      Who gives a man the authority to call BAD what Jesus calls GOOD?”

      Indeed! Had Jesus meant that all soil was bad and some had been made good, that is exactly what he would have said. He had a fair deal of familiarity with the human language he had created.

      Instead, he taught that the REASON why some believe and some don’t – the question rhutchin so loves to ask – is all a matter of the condition of the soil. jtl is correct in reasoning that, were Calvinism true, we would have to assert that all soil was ‘bad’ – directly contrary to what Jesus taught. In reality, NONE of the soil was declared inherently ‘bad’. Man was created ‘good’, in the image of his creator. And since this was pre-Monsanto and factory farms, there was not even an example of soil that had been robbed of its nutrients and/or poisoned by toxic chemicals. It is the deception, the cares and the lures of this world, that causes soil that was inherently good, and capable of producing fruit to not produce fruit.

      This, was explained later by Jesus himself.
      He did not say that All soil was bad and some was regenerated, as Calvinism falsely asserts.
      He did not say that any soil was bad.
      He said that good soil, for various reasons, had been rendered fruitless. And this was what Jesus came to prevent. He came to rescue us from the deceits of the evil one, the cares of a hard life and the enslavement of our flesh to various pleasures. Because none of these things were what God desired. And certainly did not decree. He allowed men to rebel, to wreak havoc upon his good and lovely creation and to inflict his once perfect creation with suffering, oppression and death.

      What a travesty, what a crime against God, to assert that it is He who afflicts us with the suffering, oppression and death that our own free, rebellious choices create. And what an affront to the gospel of love and redemption which Jesus manifested, to assert that some, perhaps most, are not included in God’s merciful desire to rescue mankind from deception, evil and death.

      1. TSOO posted this one: “In reality, NONE of the soil was declared inherently ‘bad’. Man was created ‘good’, in the image of his creator.”

        “… It is the deception, the cares and the lures of this world, that causes soil that was inherently good, and capable of producing fruit to not produce fruit.”

        ————–

        My Response : Adam and Eve was created “good” before they sinned -This was their original status but was not maintained. They become bad after the fall due to the sin that was in them.

        For TSOO, the cares and lures of the world was causal to the soil to become good and become fruitful. – This false assertion of TSOO is contrary to the teachings of Jesus Christ. I don’t know where TSOO got his doctrine. My goodness…

    2. jtleosala
      It is undeniable in the Bible that all humans are sinners, meaning all belongs to “bad soil” – as their attributes, whether elect or non-elect.

      br.d
      FALSE
      Still other seed fell on GOOD soil. It came up, grew and produced a crop, some multiplying thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times.”
      Mark 4:8
      ——–My Response to br.d and his god, the neurological impulse man———–
      Saying FALSE to my statement above that : “all humanity are sinners” is to embrace the doctrine of Ed Chapman that he was born righteous when he came out of this world.

      1. Jtle and Br.D… tone it down alittle Brothers. Love one another as Christ has loved you. Thx.

  16. I have been thinking about the idea that humans are made in the image of God (“Imago Dei” for the Latin loving Calvinists).

    What does that mean?

    You may know that Barth and Brunner (spiritual capacity for relationships) differ from Augustine and Calvin (rationality, cognitive abilities), but no matter, they agree that it is true in some way.

    So if all humans are “created in God’s image,” how does that square with the idea that most of them were created (solely for the purpose) to be hated and the vessels of destruction?

    How about the non-elect children of the elect?

    How about the baptized babies of the elect — who are really non-elect? I mean you can’t just baptize your baby and impose on God that this means election, right?

    So imagine an “elect” couple who gives birth to a “non-elect” child (It has to happen sometimes right? Calvinists can’t just say that all our children are automatically elect, right? Even Piper preached about some of his kids possibly being non-elect).

    An “elect” couple gives birth a “non-elect” child and baptizes him.

    This child is now :
    made in the image of God
    born into a “covenant home”
    baptized into the covenant
    taught the Word of God his whole life.

    But not “elect.” So, hated by God and created to be a vessel of destruction.

    Good News! Good Theology!

    1. FOH
      This child is now :
      made in the image of God
      born into a “covenant home”
      baptized into the covenant
      taught the Word of God his whole life.

      But not “elect.” So, hated by God and created to be a vessel of destruction.

      Good News! Good Theology!

      br.d
      Good one FOH!

      Yes – in Calvinist thinking.- created specifically as a vessel of wrath – for Calvin’s god’s good pleasure.

      But on top of that – Calvinists AUTO-MAGICALLY assume each of themselves “elect”
      Yet the doctrine stipulates whether “elect” or TOTALLY DEPRAVED – is known only to Calvin’s god.

      However that doesn’t stop them from going about their office *AS-IF* they are “elect”.
      And they think Jesus words: “My sheep hear my voice – all that the father draws will come unto me” *AS-IF* that applies to them.

      But then it gets even more interesting.
      Since in Calvinism only the “few” are “elect” – it follows the Calvinist you are in dialog with right now with has the preponderant chance of being TOTALLY DEPRAVED.

      Where can I sign up! :-]

    2. FOH posted this one:

      An “elect” couple gives birth a “non-elect” child and baptizes him.

      This child is now :
      made in the image of God
      born into a “covenant home”
      baptized into the covenant
      taught the Word of God his whole life.

      But not “elect.” So, hated by God and created to be a vessel of destruction.

      Good News! Good Theology!
      ——-My Response———

      My friend FOH, you might not overcome your emotions anymore. Downloading your sentiments have made you compose the litany above. Have you done that thing when you are still a Calvie?, but I don’t

  17. You called “bad” what Jesus Called “good”
    That is what I called FALSE

    You then ignored the part of your statement which contradicted Jesus – and focused on the sinners part of your statement.

    Another example of a lack of honesty.

  18. It is another example of finding what you want to find in scripture, rather than seriously reflecting upon and grappling with what is there.

    As I mentioned in an earlier post, before the days of industrialization and chemical poisoning, all soil was healthy and able to produce fruit with proper tending. Anyone who has a yard understands how difficult it is to keep things from growing in areas in which you wish to not have grass or plants. Give a weed or grass seed the least bit of soil and it will grow.

    What Jesus describes is why some soil, which should be expected to produce fruit, being as capable as any other soil, does not. He goes on to explain rocks and weeds, in other words, impediments that have been introduced, either by an enemy or poor choices. This is the question ru